17 Jan Do you think the military does a good job of recognizing valor?
A total of 3,530 Medals of Honor have been given to date. Of those, only 30 have been awarded since the Vietnam War, and all were awarded posthumously. Two of those were for service in Somalia, 20 for Afghanistan and eight for Iraq.
Only 66 service members received the award while they were living, according to the Congressional Medal of Honor website.
One of the most recent recipients was Sgt. 1st Class Alwyn Cashe who was awarded the Medal of Honor (posthumously) earlier this month for his brave actions during a deployment in October 2005 in Support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. It took 16 years after Cashe pulled out six of his fellow soldiers who were trapped in a burning vehicle for him to be awarded the U.S. military’s most prestigious military decoration. The award was given to his widow, Tamara, by President Joe Biden.
“This is probably the clearest-cut case of a Medal of Honor action that I’ve ever seen,” said Douglas Sterner, a Vietnam veteran and historian who has studied military awards for decades.
Beauracracy was a big reason for the long amount of time it took to award Cashe the Medal of Honor, though it was never identified exactly who held up the review of Cashe’s award.
The Distinguished Service Cross is the second-highest award that a service member can be awarded for the Army. Marines can be awarded the Navy Cross, and members of The Air Force receive the Air Force Cross. More than 13,000 Distinguished Service Crosses have been awarded, and of those, fewer than 50 have been awarded since 9/11.
Another example is the Silver Star, the third-highest award given for showing valor in combat. The Department of Defense doesn’t have an extensive record of the number of recipients, but experts estimate that the number lies somewhere between 100,000 and 150,000. Only about 800 of those have been awarded since 9/11, according to valor.defense.gov.
In 2017, military officials reviewed more than 1,300 combat-related awards for acts of bravery to potentially upgrade those awards. This review, ordered by Secretary of Defense Ash Carter, came about after a good deal of criticism from combat veterans, politicians and historians about the small number of medals that have been awarded after 9/11, according to Military Times. As a result of the review, however, only 10 of those awards were upgraded.
For World War II, The Korean War and The Vietnam War, awards for valor were awarded at much higher rates. What do you think is the reason for fewer awards for service members? Is it political? Does the military not recognize valor as it once did? Why does it take so long to recognize acts of valor that have gone above and beyond what is required of them?
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Do you think the military does a good job of recognizing valor?