News article: Medals getting a big overhaul

1/8/2016

The Pentagon has recommended some big changes to the way the military awards medals.

Some big changes are coming to the way the Pentagon recognizes combat service. According to the Military Times, a two-year internal review conducted by the Department of Defense has recommended 37 changes that will bring the military's medals system into the 21st century.

Among the changes are a new "C" device that will indicate a medal earned while in combat. Veterans will recognize its similarity to the "V" device currently signifying valor. Along with the new combat denotation is a definition - applicable to every service - of what "meritorious service in combat" means, a change that will affect the criteria for the Bronze Star. 

"We're ensuring that the Bronze Star goes out to those who are incurring the risk of combat or actually have a significant risk of hostile action," a defense official told the Military Times. 

But the Bronze Star isn't the only medal cast under a new light. 

CNN reported on Wednesday that the military was going back to take a close look at more than 1,000 medals awarded since the terrorist attacks of Sep. 11, 2001, a review initiated by Chuck Hagel, then Secretary of Defense, intended to determine whether or not the actions cited in those awards were worthy of the Medal of Honor.

Seventeen Medals of Honor have been earned since U.S. troops first hit the ground in Afghanistan in 2001. The first seven were given posthumously, but in 2010 the Defense Department issued a clarification on what the "risk of life" qualification meant. Since then, CNN noted, all 10 recipients of the nation's highest honor have been living.

"There is no indication that any service members were not recognized appropriately, but the purpose of this is to ensure that those service members who performed valorously were recognized at the appropriate level," an official with the DOD told the news organization.

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