Netflix’s Purple Hearts – How Real is the Movie?

by | General, UCMJ | 1 comment


Netflix’s 2022 movie, Purple Hearts follows two characters Luke, a Marine who is about to be deployed to Iraq and Cassie, a struggling singer. Neither of them have any intention of getting married, but circumstances force them to enter into a marriage of convenience.
When Luke and Cassie’s paths cross, they quickly realize… they hate each other. As the movie progresses, they have to put their differences aside and work to keep their marriage together so they don’t get caught. As tragedy and tribulation confront them both along the way, they deal with the challenges of life, Luke being a Marine, and eventually fall in love.

Pretty cliche but a fun movie night.

The Marine, Luke, is a brave and steadfast Marine who is willing to do whatever it takes to protect his country. As well as do things by the book. He’s a no-nonsense kind of guy who takes his job seriously but he has a past that isn’t so pleasant.

On the other hand, the singer, Cassie, is a young woman who is trying to make it in the daunting music industry. She’s creative and passionate, but her dreams of making it big are constantly being put on hold due her health. Cassie is diabetic, and has to take medication to control her blood sugar. This makes her life difficult since she can’t function without taking insulin, which is expensive and hard for her to afford. Somewhat a commentary on the US healthcare system.

Is Purple Hearts Real?

Is Purple Hearts really a movie about real-life people? Bottom-line, no.

The characters Luke, played by Nicholas Galitzone, and Cassie, played by Sofia Carson, (who is fine as hell) are not based on real people. The movie is based on something that happens a lot though. People getting married to take advantage and use military spouse benefits.

They are a lot of names for these types of marriages but some call them “military contract marriages“, which are real and do happen quite a bit.

What are military contract marriages?

Military contract marriages are typically an agreement between a man in the military and women outside the military.

These marriages are an agreement between that allows them to receive better military benefits. This includes access to housing allowances, medical coverage, and increased pay.
They are not in love, or may not even like each other, but want to be legally married to use these better military benefits.

Military Benefits for Married Spouses

When you are married in the US military you are afforded many more benefits compared to being a single service member. This includes Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) and Basic Allowance for Subsistence (BAS), which are designed to help support service members and their families. The best part of BAH and BAS is that both are given to service members tax-free. Military pay however is taxed.

A lot of young soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines will get married as soon as possible. Why? If you are married you are given BAH, BAS, and increased pay with military dependents. A spouse counts as a single military dependent.

Many service members want to get out of living in the barracks, which is on-post housing on a base. This means you are living with and working with the same people all the time. Military members are often eager to get BAH and BAS but it is not given to lower enlisted members until certain rank is achieved OR you are married.

In the movie Luke is a Corporal which would make him an E4, meaning he would have been living in a Marine barracks. He most likely would not have a BAH voucher or get any additional benefits for being single.

Military spouses can also enjoy education benefits. According to the Department of Defense, spouses of active-duty service members can receive up to 36 months of preferential education benefits, including tuition assistance. This benefit is part of the Military Spouse Career Advancement Account program and can be used for degree programs, certificate programs, apprenticeship programs, and licensing and certification tests. With this generous benefit, military spouses have the opportunity to pursue higher education while their loved ones serve.

In Purple Hearts Cassie’s reasoning for wanted to marry a Marine is the free healthcare benefits. It is true that married military spouses are given free Tricare, the US military’s healthcare plan. This is a huge plus for Cassie considering insulin is expensive for those dealing with diabetes.

So while the characters of Luke and Cassie are not real, these marriages happen quite a lot in the US military. Obviously due to the many benefits listed above and probably some I’m not even aware of.

Military Law and Military Justice – UCMJ Article 134

As Luke alludes to in the movie several times there are consequences for getting caught in one of these military contract marriages.

Of course here at the Uniform Code of Military Justice we are interested in discussing this aspect of Purple Hearts. This article applies when a service member is absent without leave (AWOL), which is also considered an unauthorized absence from duty. This can lead
Luke is accused of breaking UCMJ Article 134 – Frauds Against the United States.

In the movie Purple Hearts, the consequences of breaking the UCMJ comes with serious punishments, including imprisonment and discharge from the military.

While it is fictionalized in Purple Hearts, this is based on real-world consequences of violating UCMJ regulations. While the movie provides an entertaining take on the subject matter, it is important to remember that this is a real issue that should not be taken lightly.
If are you caught doing this, there are consequences which you can see at the end of the movie.

Is Purple Hearts a Good Movie?

It was interesting to watch Luke and Cassie develop a relationship despite their initial reservations. Watching them navigate their way through the challenges of their forced upon marriage was a fun and entertaining.

It’s not going to win any awards but was decent enough and worth it to watch. I feel this describes most of Netflix’s original library of originally produced TV shows and movies.

If you get a chance to watch Purple Hearts, leave a comment below. What did you think of the movie?


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