National Purple Heart Organization Looks Into Alleged Falsified Claim

BILOXI (WLOX)-- In hopes of clearing up what they call a misunderstanding, Christopher and Kathy Billeaud  called on Henry Cook, the National Commander of the Military Order of the Purple Hearts to take a second look at their case.

Christopher Billeaud is charged with lying about having received a Purple Heart medal through false documents.  He also received a Purple Heart car tag which is free and never expires.

But, after looking through the documents, the commander's findings weren't too far off from what the Billeauds have already heard.

"I found nothing in the records to indicate he's ever been awarded a Purple Heart medal. I found indications in the paperwork he had applied for a Purple Heart medal, but the request was denied," said Cook.

Commander Cook and Kathy Billeaud do agree the Air Force denied Christopher a Purple Heart. But, Kathy says it was the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs who said her husband had received it.

"They see him as a Purple Heart recipient so that's saying everyone who works over there doesn't know what they're talking about," said Kathy Billeaud.

The commander, however, says that's not how things work.

"The Department of Veterans Affairs cannot award a purple heart," said Cook.

The Billeaud's say they've been working with Congressman Gene Taylor's office to establish that Christopher was wounded as a direct result of enemy action, the criteria to receive the Purple Heart.

"As soon as he gets back into town, I have every intention of going to his office to prove that this has been worked on for years," said Kathy Billeaud.

Commander Cook says Christopher has received many military honors; however, in the case of the Purple Heart, he says the documents speak clearly.

"He has many decorations.  He has many commendations.  But, he does not have a Purple Heart."

Military Hospitals can also award Purple Heart medals to troops wounded in combat.   Billeaud did serve some time in a military hospital; however, Commander Cook says there's no evidence of anyone else awarding Billeaud a Purple Heart.

In addition to following up with Congressman Taylor, Kathy Billeaud says she plans to dig up more documents, including medical records, to try and clear her husband's name.

The V.A.'s complaint also says Billeaud claimed a higher rank in his discharge papers.  Another Mississippi man, John Wayne Lebo, of Tylertown, was also charged as a result of the complaint.

Both Lebo and Billeaud could spend up to a year in prison and a $100-,000 fine for each violation they face.