Flap over military combat awards grows
November 26th, 2012
12:01 AM ET

Flap over military combat awards grows

By Mike Mount

The U.S. military's combat awards process is in disarray and because of that the official Department of Defense statistics do not accurately reflect those who have been awarded combat medals for bravery in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to some members of Congress.

One of those congressmen, Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-California, is calling for the Army and other services that supply information for the Pentagon's statistics to correct the dozens of disparities, because it is a "disservice" to those who have fought bravely in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan and in our past wars and conflicts.

"There have been repetitive and serious breakdowns at multiple levels of the awards process. Problems are visible across all services, but, overall, there appears to be a lack of transparency and even accountability," according to Hunter.

One of the problems, say those independently keeping an eye on the awards process, is the disparity in numbers of missing names in the Army's accounting of Silver Star recipients.

More than 60 Army Silver Star awards are missing from the Pentagon's official website, according to Hunter and Doug Sterner, a historian who has researched the medal records of U.S. troops for years and put together what many believe is the most accurate list of what troops received what top awards for valor.

Sterner researched the records for years on his own and published a website with his findings. He was then hired by the Military Times newspapers to curate his list for that company.

Sterner says that there are also at least two missing names on the Pentagon's website, which lists the official statistics, involving one Army Distinguished Service Cross and one Navy Cross, the second highest award for bravery in combat.

"We need to properly remember those who died heroically," Sterner said.

The Department of Defense's valor.defense.gov website database was established earlier this year to allow the public to see whether a person officially received a specific award for valor in combat, in an effort to debunk individuals who falsely claim they have received an award.

The website lists the names of those who have received the Medal of Honor, the highest award for valor in combat; the Distinguished Service Cross, Navy and Air Force crosses, which are the second highest award for combat valor, and the Silver Star, the third highest award for valor in combat.

The website lists only those awarded combat medals from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"The Army thoroughly and regularly reviews the top three (Medal of Honor, Distinguished Service Cross, and Silver Star) valor awards prior to posting to ensure that all Soldiers listed on the DoD Valor Award Website have been verified as award recipients," Army spokesman Maj. Justin Platt said in a written statement.

"The Army's valor awards process is a time-tested operation which ensures our Soldiers are properly recognized for their heroics. Leaders at all levels are empowered to recommend deserving Soldiers for valorous awards and dedicated to see their sacrifices honored," Platt added,

The Pentagon has said that the list of names on the DoD website is provided by the individual services that maintain their individual awards records. Pentagon officials have also said the list of names will never be complete for a couple of reasons.

"Some awards won't be posted for security reasons, and military members may request their names be removed, the list will be incomplete," says Eileen Lainez, a spokeswoman for the Department of Defense.

See: Did Army award Silver Stars without teling recipients?

But Sterner and Rep. Hunter say that is just an excuse for shoddy paperwork work and a "lack of attention" to the achievements of these soldiers by the services.

Sterner says he finds it hard to believe there are more than 60 Silver Star awards that are part of secret missions in the war on terrorism.

"Some of the award recipients' names are already in the public domain. There are military buildings and a post office named for some of them," Sterner said. Sterner said that two of them in his records are buried at Arlington National Cemetery with notations on their headstones that they received the Silver Star but are not on the official DoD website.

Hunter has also been pushing for lessening the bureaucratic amounts of paperwork that are required to recommend troops for the nation's highest award for combat valor, the Medal of Honor.

Because of the lengthy paperwork, and numerous other requirements, Hunter says that these Medal of Honor files get "lost" in the consideration process because some leaders may not think the person meets the stringent requirements and the paperwork just sits on somebody's desk.

At least two troops have been denied the chance for receiving the Medal of Honor from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. One of the cases, that of Marine Corps Sgt. Rafael Perlata, is now under review by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and an announcement could be made within weeks, according to Pentagon officials.

Hunter believes that there are many other cases where commanders put troops in for lesser awards because they knew the process would be easier to ensure the troops were recognized rather than endure the process for the Medal of Honor, where the paperwork would most likely never be properly processed.

"The criteria for the Medal of Honor are longstanding and have not changed for the current conflicts. Each recommendation is carefully considered based on the merits of the individual's actions, eyewitness accounts, and other supporting evidence. The standard for the Medal of Honor is high, as one would expect for our Nation's most prestigious military decoration," Army spokesman Platt told Security Clearance.

Hunter is a former Marine who served in both Iraq and Afghanistan. He has been pushing for more transparency in the military awards process for much of his time in Congress, questioning the military's - and specifically the Army's - procedures on how it operates its awards system because of what he sees as an unorganized and outdated process that could be easily maintained digitally.

Hunter also pressed the Army this fall after a private Army contractor accidentally posted a list of 500 names of soldiers who received combat awards and their Social Security numbers. Among the names released were Silver Star recipients from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Sterner discovered the list and saw that the Pentagon's list of Silver Star names was shorter than the Army's list.

Hunter demanded Army Secretary John McHugh look into the award status of nine soldiers and clarify their status in early October. He also chastised the secretary for continued problems in the Army's award process.

McHugh sent a response letter to Hunter on November 5, updating him on the findings of the Army review.

"This review verified that four of the Soldiers were not actually awarded the Silver Star, and five Soldiers were awarded the Silver Star, but are not listed due to the sensitive nature of the operation in which they participated," McHugh's letter said.

Hunter was not satisfied with the answers and sent a letter back to McHugh last week saying there were many questions about the award status that had gone unanswered because of "ambiguity" in McHugh's letter.

McHugh's office did not answer questions from Security Clearance, saying only that staffers did not comment on personal correspondence between the secretary and members of Congress.

Pentagon spokeswoman Lainez said it was an Army issue to discuss because the Army maintains its own records.

But Sterner doubts the Pentagon is being forthright and says not all of these names in question are being held for security reasons. He believes it's just another excuse for sloppy record-keeping on the part of the military services.

McHugh's letter also updated Hunter on the Army's review into the public posting of more than 500 soldiers who have received medals for combat valor since 2001. More than 30 of the soldiers had their Social Security numbers inadvertently posted.

McHugh detailed the process the Army was doing to ensure those soldiers and their families were receiving credit protection.  He also said there was a full review that looked at the award processing procedures for honors such as the Bronze and Silver stars and higher awards.

"The results of this investigation will include recommendations of measures the Army can implement to prevent similar incidents in the future...personnel who routinely handle (sensitive award information) are being retrained on handling procedures to ensure the information is appropriately safeguarded," McHugh told Hunter.

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    February 16, 2014 at 1:49 pm | Reply
  62. Randy Ellis

    To paraphrase Napoleon...Strike enough medals for my officers and men and I can conquer the world. This is not a new controversy. It has been going on since the first fighting units were formed. Historically the members of the military have been poorly compensated. They do not receive quarterly bonuses and rank can be very slow and is often given to the undeserving. There is a political reality in service as well as civilian life. Allow these people their trinkets, the ones who do not deserve them know it and the ones who do could care less

    November 26, 2012 at 12:08 pm | Reply
  63. Gary L

    I don't have a problem with overall management . My issue is with lazy 1st Sgts that don't process the paperwork which may lead to more work for them.

    November 26, 2012 at 10:48 am | Reply
    • MTD USMC

      1stSgts don't "process the paperwork". The awards system in electronic and the award recommendation and summary of action route from the originator up the chain of command. Moreover, as no award (medal) can be authorized by a company commander level officer, the delay in the award being "processed" would not be at the company/battery level where a 1stSgt operates.

      November 26, 2012 at 11:01 am | Reply
  64. Jim K

    In the 80s a number of us served in combat in places that still have not been acknowledged, no awards were given and probably never will be.

    November 26, 2012 at 10:02 am | Reply
  65. s

    there's a difference between having it on a gravestone that someone was awarded a medal, where the only ppl who visit are family, and posting it on the internet for access to any and everyone. i don't find it so hard to believe that there are ppl who are fine being recognized in their hometown by having a building named after them, yet don't want it blasted all over the web, and request that their names not be added to the list. it seems to me that the ppl who ought to be complaining are the recipients who WOULD like to be on the list but aren't. maybe all these guys should shut up and let it be, it's not dishonoring these men just because WE don't know specific names of every single last person to get a medal. we ought to be honoring all of our soldiers EVERY DAY, medal or not.

    November 26, 2012 at 9:10 am | Reply
  66. bman


    November 26, 2012 at 9:01 am | Reply
  67. Willie12345

    Can't the government do anything, right ?

    November 26, 2012 at 8:48 am | Reply
  68. ToldUso

    We could solve this easily, just throw another $200 billion at the military budget.

    November 26, 2012 at 8:36 am | Reply
    • Mike Williams

      No, instead let's gut defense spending spending and increase social spending.


      November 26, 2012 at 8:39 am | Reply
  69. Duc749

    Leave it to a Marine to clean up the Army. Typical.

    November 26, 2012 at 8:27 am | Reply
    • Chooch0253

      Typical is the over-inflated ego of another jarhead.

      November 26, 2012 at 9:06 am | Reply
      • Mike Williams

        It's hard to be humble when you're the best!


        November 26, 2012 at 9:11 am |
    • Robert

      Nope.... Marines are for fighting and the Army is where you go for logistics.

      November 26, 2012 at 9:09 am | Reply
  70. alligator face

    this is why i and many more never did service, because the leadership and command are usually incompetent or complacent.....i would put my life on the line to defend my country but not put my life at risk because some buffoon is incompetent or just doesn't care.

    November 26, 2012 at 7:41 am | Reply
    • Mike Williams

      Yeah I'm sure that's why you didn't serve.


      November 26, 2012 at 7:53 am | Reply
      • Jerry Lemieux

        His was the most preposterous excuse ever used to justify not serving.

        November 26, 2012 at 8:40 am |
      • Mike Williams



        November 26, 2012 at 8:41 am |
      • Spock

        Some of us were never meant to carry a gun. They didnt want some of us, either. They told my oldest son that he was permanently ineligible for militart service. I ended up finding another way to serve, keeping astronauts safe after losing Columbia.

        November 26, 2012 at 12:11 pm |
    • EL Guapo

      Alligator Face – That isn't why you didn't serve? Are you telling us you didn't sign up because someone may not give you the appropriate medals? B.S. You're probably another hollow-sounding "I support the troops" automaton who hasn't volunteered to meet us at an airport, or donate time to wounded warriors. For 18+ yers I've been doing the job, and am wrapping up a year-long tour in AFG as I write this. I'm not a fan of "combat accountants" getting BSMs, and the Army has definitely devalued the Peso when it comes to awards. There is a rank and service bias, and it's getting worse in the last few years, when benchwarmers are trying to get their 1 shot at a war zone before 2014 ends.

      November 26, 2012 at 8:05 am | Reply
      • Bob

        So true! You are right on all accounts. I served in the late 70's, the 80's, the early 90's, and early 2000's (National Guard and Reserve). I was never mobilized, for whatever reason. I did nothing spectacular but managed to go from enlisted to retiring as a senior officer. Each decade I kept seeing the award process cheapened. More than once I personally turned down awards because my superiors felt they had to award X amount of awards during annual training (really?). They were literally looking for excuses to give them out. I knew an E7 that said she already had enough of “those”, insinuating she would like something else. This same person headquarter clerk was on medical leave for almost a year but they “needed” to give out something to someone. I never served in combat so it really frustrates me that so many closest to the flagpole look like they were out winning the war from their desk. I am proud of my service but I know what I did and did not do. Awards were becoming more and more of a self-esteem issue rather than true merit. You can be proud of your service without taking away the honor of those that truly deserve higher awards.

        November 26, 2012 at 9:08 am |
      • MightyMo

        I completely and totally agree with Bob. I retired in 99 and still work for the DOD. The changes since I left are really astonishing. One change is as Bob suggests; the inflated number of Awards and Decorations. When you narrow this down to awards for exceptional service, and especially bravery, I think the results are unacceptable. Awards of those types were in my day only given to a few, and when they were given they meant something special to the recipient and earned respect from those around them. I'm not saying current recipients didn't do something special, but if those awards are meant to truly distinguish the recipient, they can't be given out like candy, then all they become is a promotion tool because of the points they earn. I hate to say this, and maybe it will earn me some hateful comments, but I think our military has become significantly lost since 9/11 and the mismanagement of the Bush years. The emphasis is no longer on service but to promote everyone as quickly as possible and climb the ladder to earn the very good money the military makes today. When you see so many first term enlistee's driving Mercedes and BMW's you know the money is good!

        November 26, 2012 at 9:30 am |
      • Mike Williams

        The main reason why you see so many first termers with nice cars is usually not due to their great pay.  It's because they spend numerous deployments overseas in theatre where they aren't able to spend their money.  They're all but forced to save 7 months worth of pay or more, depending on the length of the deployment, because there isn't anywhere to spend it in theater.


        November 26, 2012 at 9:36 am |
    • Lee-Anne G

      Oh please. There is no such thing as perfection. Generals and privates will always make mistakes. And Presidents. And metermaids. And EVERYONE. All in all the military is very well run and they do a pretty good job. If you are so willing to defend your country, then do it and shut it. It isn't like the people that got the award joined the service to get a medal. Their team mates know what they did and believe it or not, that is going to mean more to them than any piece of cloth.

      November 26, 2012 at 8:07 am | Reply
    • Freeloader

      Such a convenient excuse... you didn't serve because your name might not be added to a list. You should be ashamed. The real problem is; you're not.

      November 26, 2012 at 8:15 am | Reply
    • tom ablement

      No, I think you didn't serve because you didn't have what it takes. & you may have a yellow sripe, between your shoulders!

      November 26, 2012 at 8:28 am | Reply
    • Jerry Lemieux

      Right, this is the reason you didn't serve. I'm sure that it had nothing to do with the clucking sound that frequently comes from your mouth.

      November 26, 2012 at 8:37 am | Reply
    • DelFuego

      Alligator Face- Very convincing argument you have there. You would have served but being all omniscient you realized the military could not maintain your high level of standards. What a load. Did you just fall of the garbage truck or what?

      November 26, 2012 at 8:39 am | Reply
    • Chooch0253

      Incompetent would be someone criticizing a system they never have been in. Like you.

      November 26, 2012 at 9:09 am | Reply
    • Robert

      Your priorities are all messed up so you wouldn't have made a good fit in any service anyways. Servicemen don't serve just to get a medal.

      November 26, 2012 at 9:12 am | Reply
    • Grose

      Alligator face, I retired after 21 years in the USAF and I don't begrudge anyone that didn't serve. It's an all volunteer force so try being more honest about why "YOU" didn't. You knew nothing about how incompetent the leadership is. No system is fool proof, perfect and prone to human error. Your conscious avoidance of military service is by your own free choice, but don't use the excuse that posted.

      November 26, 2012 at 12:42 pm | Reply
    • Swing State Libertarian

      This is the worst excuse I've ever heard. Geez, at least blame it on "flat feet" or "migraines"-something a little more believable.

      November 26, 2012 at 1:10 pm | Reply
  71. alan boyd

    Apparently military medals carry the same validity as Nobel Peace Prizes.

    November 26, 2012 at 7:33 am | Reply
    • Mike Williams

      Why not?  Obama recieved a nobel prize for doing what?  They obviously take the process for awarding the nobel prize very seriously.


      November 26, 2012 at 7:55 am | Reply
  72. Mike

    Okay this board is dumb. It's not letting me post anything critical of Daniel.

    November 26, 2012 at 7:06 am | Reply
  73. Mike


    November 26, 2012 at 7:04 am | Reply
  74. MTD USMC

    Those in the military know that the award process is out of control. The awarding of "combat" awards is more out of control than it was even during Viet Nam. The Bronze Star (without combat distinguishing "V") has become the "I've been there and didn't screw up royally" gimme' award for just about every officer and senior NCO who has set foot on the ground for OIF and OEF. There are individuals who sit in command centers on a staff in Bahrain who live in a hotel and eat restaurant food who come home with a Bronze Star while Marines and Soldiers who are out on the front lines who come home with a pat on the back. I've even seen a few Silver Stars that were questionable (e.g., senior people in a place where they should not have been along for a joy ride). I don't think the database is as much of a problem as the volume of senior awards given for actions that don't warrant them.

    November 26, 2012 at 6:46 am | Reply
    • Mike

      So so true! I and many other Marines that I've served with have had this discussion numerous times.

      November 26, 2012 at 6:51 am | Reply
      • MTD USMC

        Semper Fi. If you look at the awards awarded early on during OIF and OEF (2003-2005 or so), the process was still pretty stringent and some Marines who probably should or could have been eligible for Bronze Stars w/ a V recieved NMCAMs or NMCOMs with a V device. After about 2006 or so the award flood gates opened. I have a very good friend of mine who is now a retired Sergeant Major who said in response to the commander informing him that he was being submitted for a Bronze Star, "If you give me that thing I'll never be able to stand in front of my Marines again."

        November 26, 2012 at 6:59 am |
    • tcp

      It has always been that way. This is nothing new.

      November 26, 2012 at 7:25 am | Reply
      • Mike Williams

        Really?  I've talked to some Vietnam vets and told them about the way that bronze stars in particular are awarded during OIF and OEF and they were suprised.  I'm not being sarcastic.  I'm truely interested if you have some insight.


        November 26, 2012 at 8:00 am |
      • mark

        This IS how it works...I remember a General who was flew his own helicopter once every month to get flight pay. He was very dangerous and not really qualified...we had orders to move jeeps and trucks far out of his way when he was landing, and people were scared to fly with him.

        Ranking officers routinely got high awards for things they had little or nothing to do with...never got their boots dirty, while the people on the ground got nothing.

        I do think this congressman is just looking for cheap publicity, though.

        November 26, 2012 at 8:05 am |
      • Mike

        But was the bronze star used as pretty much a deployment medal for officers and senior enlisted? It has seriously almost gotten to that point.

        November 26, 2012 at 8:17 am |
    • USMC70114

      Agreed. I've been to Bahrain, Iraq, Afghanistan and all of the other locales we've been through in the past 10 years. Yeah, at the outset, those who were in Bahrain did get Bronze Stars. I also saw a lot of Marines get put in for purple hearts for being in vehicle accidents nowhere near the nearest Iraqi (friendly or enemy).

      The system is flawed. At one point as a Major, I was doing the job of four Colonels and was put in for a Meritorious Service Medal, only to be told that they were for LtCols and above, so it was downgraded to a NC. I told them to keep it. When they mailed it to me, my name was misspelled three times on it. I walked in my CO's office (a Colonel) and told him to keep it. The sad truth is most leaders are too lazy or busy to write their guys up for the recognition they deserve, even though it doesn't cost anything. After 17 years as a Marine, I have one personal award becuase I refuse to write my own, meanwhile my last three bosses each have a Legion of Merit becuase I wrote the awards.

      November 26, 2012 at 8:32 am | Reply
      • Jerry Lemieux

        I have 2 Meritorious Service Medals and I was only a lowly warrant officer.

        November 26, 2012 at 8:42 am |
    • KAR

      I completely agree with you. I have worked with impressive E5 medics and WO2s that have saved my life and they go home with next to nothing. Close friends who have been platoon leaders, safely getting all 42 of their men home, no BSM. And yet staff pukes, eating at real resuarants at KAF, or going to spin class in Balad, not only get BSMs but also their CABs. It's disgusting. The medical field is awful as well. Some hand out AAMs to MSMs for showing up. Other leaders won't give you a second look when you PCS 4 years later and selling your soul to your duty station and unit. The entire system is broken and it takes leaders to fix it.

      November 26, 2012 at 7:05 pm | Reply
  75. Alvin Cavanaugh

    I'm a Viet Nam veteran and I served over 40 years ago and I still don't have my service medals.

    November 26, 2012 at 6:42 am | Reply
    • Mike Berger

      Alvin – go to http://www.archives.gov and click on the military link. There's a link for awards and decorations. Follow the instructions. Should take perhaps five minutes if you are Army or Air. If USMC or Navy you need a form, SF180, which is at the site. If Army or Air you will "send" then print and submit a signature form. Regardless of service, include a list of your assignments in 'Nam and absolutely include a copy of your DD214. You should have a complete replacement set of you medals in about 90 days. And it is FREE. Good luck.

      November 26, 2012 at 6:55 am | Reply
  76. Sagebrush Shorty

    No one cares about the military until they really need them. It's disgraceful .

    November 26, 2012 at 6:29 am | Reply
  77. Dan

    Well the first and main problem to the awards is how they are processed and approved. Most commanders that are approving official degrade most awards just due to a Marines RANK not fitting that specific award..

    November 26, 2012 at 6:14 am | Reply
    • jim

      hell my unit told us what awards we would get before deployed
      we would get only one award, two if we got the purple heart
      and rank would set how high the award would be
      I was not one of them but many should have gotten more or higher awards

      November 26, 2012 at 7:43 am | Reply
    • USMC70114

      Dan, I wish I could tell you that you were wrong. I've seen it many times and it's not the junior officers who are doing it. I've seen the policy comme down from the 2 and 3 star level.

      November 26, 2012 at 8:36 am | Reply
  78. Lee Downie

    Why isn't the Silver Star silver?

    November 26, 2012 at 6:14 am | Reply
    • sparky

      it is Brainiac

      November 26, 2012 at 6:21 am | Reply
      • Lee Downie

        Take a look at the photo, top of this article.

        November 26, 2012 at 6:35 am |
    • Jack 63

      There is a silver star in the center of the large one on the medal

      November 26, 2012 at 6:41 am | Reply
      • Lee Downie

        Thanks... I'll take your word for it. I can't see the little one in the photo and I've never been close enough to the real thing to see it. I do recognize the red, white and blue ribbon from which the star is suspended... and respect it.

        November 26, 2012 at 6:48 am |
    • Dave254

      That photos is of a Bronze Star, you military genius.

      November 26, 2012 at 6:42 am | Reply
      • Lee Downie

        Buzz off.

        November 26, 2012 at 6:49 am |
      • MTD USMC

        Dave, the photo is of a Silver Star medal.

        November 26, 2012 at 6:50 am |
      • Lee Downie

        Hey, Dave 254... check out the replies from MTD USMC and from Jack 63. Have a pleasant day.

        November 26, 2012 at 6:55 am |
      • Been there, done that

        No it's not, "Genius". The ribbon for a bronze star is deep red with white edges and a blue stripe, also with white edges, in the middle.

        November 26, 2012 at 8:21 am |
      • DelFuego

        It's a Silver Star-–Genius!

        November 26, 2012 at 8:48 am |
    • MTD USMC

      The small silver star is in the center of the larger bronze colored star.

      November 26, 2012 at 6:49 am | Reply
  79. Mike

    For some reason my response to Daniel won't show up on here. I've responded twice and it just keeps not being posted. Weird.

    November 26, 2012 at 6:11 am | Reply
  80. Dina

    Trillions spent on the DoD and they can't even keep a list of names...

    November 26, 2012 at 5:58 am | Reply
    • sybaris

      That's what you get when you are compelled to hire the lowest bidder.

      If you're going to complain about the budget, don't complain about the quality.

      November 26, 2012 at 6:27 am | Reply
  81. Lance

    My records never have shown the correct awards, andI got out in 1992.

    November 26, 2012 at 5:50 am | Reply
    • Been there, done that

      That's your fault. You had the opportunity to review and submit corrections to your DD 214 when you out-processed.

      November 26, 2012 at 8:23 am | Reply
  82. Spike

    Sgt. Peralta deserves to have his name spelled correctly.

    November 26, 2012 at 5:40 am | Reply
  83. 200 TON HAMMER

    Basically you have to be a golden boy or golden girl too get high awards less then USA is in a real over run real ground battles in some real deep conflicts and they are loosening two brigades a day then you see private clone sniffy get big awards

    November 26, 2012 at 5:36 am | Reply
  84. maxmaxwell

    wow! I guess the idea I lost a brother and his name isn't mentioned anywhere, is over shadowed by two names off a list.
    This article wasn't even worth the time to read it. I see a misprint on my jar of Peter Pan, CNN gonna front page that too??

    November 26, 2012 at 5:30 am | Reply
  85. rick1948

    What bunk. As you go through the article, it goes from "flaps" and "disarrays" to what we're really talking about is two missing names from a website.

    November 26, 2012 at 5:22 am | Reply
    • jnpa

      For some reason I just don't believe nor trust anything a GOP congressman has to complain about. Why do I think it's probably all political?

      November 26, 2012 at 6:30 am | Reply
      • anothermoron

        Numb nuts, he served in both Iraq and Afghanistan. God I hate liberal parasites,.

        November 26, 2012 at 7:37 am |
  86. Daniel

    Hunter really needs to get a life. As stated in the article, the list will never be complete and his stating that's just an excuse for shoddy paperwork is a weak argument. Simply because HE wants the list to be complete is not a good enough reason for anyone to go out of their way to accomodate him. He chose to make this a fulltime undertaking and that's his decision. I personally would not go out of my way to make that happen for him. Those deserving of the award they received will not be any more 'honored' to have their name on an obscure database that really doesn't mean anything. As a two time recipient of a Bronze Star and many other awards and decorations, I do not feel I need any more recognition than I've already received. If anyone needs proof that I received them, I have my signed DA638s and the awards themselves.

    November 26, 2012 at 4:43 am | Reply
    • thank you

      thank you for your service and bravery

      November 26, 2012 at 5:17 am | Reply
  87. MOCaseA

    As a member of the services, and having previously worked in the Awards and Decs division for my unit, I can tell you that this stems from many things from the service level up. First and foremost poor record keeping and failing to complete awards paperwork in a timely fashion are two of the core issues. many of the people receiving these awards, don't "technically" receive them when they are pinned on, but several months afterwards when their records reflect it. Additionally, the individual components have different records management systems that make cross service transfers a living nightmare.

    Ironically the records management from the mid-80's to early 90's was probably the most effective method used, but "modernization" and the "paperless" (don't make me laugh) military have completely jacked the process up.

    Recommendation for all service members, prior or active, who are reading this: Locate your most recent DD Form 214, review it, and if there is anything missing contact your VA Rep (separated or retired) or Military Personnel Division (Active, Guard and Reserve) about getting it corrected. Once corrected submit it to the Military Personnel to have any Award/Decs updates needed performed. Once you have finished that, provide a copy to your local VA for records management. If you are still active/guard/reserve make the necessary changes to your dress uniform "ribbon rack."

    November 26, 2012 at 3:45 am | Reply
    • Daniel

      Your advise is too little, too late. A DD214 should be reviewed and corrected before ETSing or retiring. To do so after the fact is nearly impossible. It's very simple to look at it before final-out and get it corrected. Anyone who didn't do so shows a lack of care or attention to detail (ie, it's their own fault) possibly because they were in a hurry to get out and didn't think it would matter.

      November 26, 2012 at 4:47 am | Reply
      • Swing State Libertarian

        Actually, it isn't hard at all to get a DD215 issued. Sometimes awards and decs aren't listed on an original DD214 because the awards weren't created or approval for a dec didn't come through until after one was discharged from the Service. I would know-I was awarded a GWOT, AFER w/Gold Border and AFOUA – 1 Bronze OLC and "V" device for Valor AFTER I was discharged in 2003. All it took was NPRC reviewing my records and printing up a DD215-the whole process took about 3 months.

        November 26, 2012 at 1:01 pm |
  88. Mark Stoddard

    This is NOT the problem with the military's awards system – the problem is a culture of rank based awards and a biased low valor award rate – not missing names, it missing awards and a system that does not fairly present valorous awards! There are easlily more than 500 Bronze Star's with "V" device for valor that should be Silver Stars. There were nearly 170 Medals of Honor handed out in Vietnam...less than 10 for Iraq and Afghanistan. I know of many young soldiers who denied higher awards after 3,4, and 5 tours becuase of their low rank. Makes me sick to my stomach. The sytem is completely broke and there are many, many senior military leaders who should be held accountable.

    November 26, 2012 at 3:34 am | Reply
    • Don Patterson

      First Id like to state im a 20 yr vet. I personally think they hand these bronze and silver stars out now like they were candy. I think the word "hero" is over used. It used to mean something. Now its just a word who describes any military man or woman who is coming back home from a deployment. I writing this from northern Afghanistan and Im not fishing for a thank you, Im just doing my job.

      November 26, 2012 at 5:38 am | Reply
      • Mike

        Couldn't agree with you more! Bronze Stars are almost reduced to the level of officer deployment medals. I've seen so many "leaders" ie platoon commanders, company commanders etc. be given these medals because they had a successful deployment. And as far as the rank bias; that is alive and well too. It seems to be much more difficult for lower ranking young service members to have medals approved than for some of the more senior service members. I think that the system is definitley flawed.

        November 26, 2012 at 5:57 am |
      • jim

        The BSM was is specifically intended to replace the MSM in combat operations. It was part of the reason for the award. Unlike the MSM, the BSM can be awarded with a "V" for valor, just like the ACM, AFCM (for lesser acts), and like the Silver Star for greater acts. It is what it is, and is used as intended. I'm guilty–I have a BSM. I led the organization which helped generate 356 KIA in Afghanistan and I was responsible for over 700 people, fighter sortie generation, munitions, etc. Somebody thought I did a good job–we generated a couple caseloads of whoop-ss without anyone getting injured and probably saved a lot of lives by letting 1,000 lb JDAMS do our fighting for us instead of soldiers trading lead. I have army enlisted friends and former USAF subordinates who have BSMs with Vs–I know they were in the "shtuff" much deeper and scarier than me, and they performed and I respect that, and they know it. Doesn't take away from the dec I received or that anyone else who had a lot of responsibility received–the "V" makes it a very different, very personal award. I went over there, like everyone else, to do my duty–to do a job my country asked me to do. I didn't do it for a ribbon and a bauble–I did it because my Airmen needed me to, and the soldiers and Marines in the field needed our air power to back them up and hopefully make Mr Taliban's day a little less pleasant.

        November 26, 2012 at 6:20 am |
    • jim

      6 CMHs in OIF/OEF with about 1M GIs total, ~8,000 deaths
      246 CMHs in Vietnam with 8.7M GIs total, ~58,000 deaths
      464 CMHs in WWII with 16.5M GIs total, ~500,000 deaths
      1-none of these were relatable in scope
      2-we should not expect a linear relationship in CMHs because the missions are all different
      3-we do our job, we take care of our troops, and we don't worry about awards–we don't do it for ribbons and baubles.

      November 26, 2012 at 6:08 am | Reply
      • tcp

        THANK YOU! The only question one should ask oneself is "am I willing to die for my country today". The "award" makes not one LICK of difference. Quit snivelin'. ANY servicemember in my mind deserves whatever award they have. And if you don't have one you shouldn't CARE! YOU KNOW what you did. NO one can take that from you.

        November 26, 2012 at 7:32 am |
      • Mike Williams

        Yeah tell that to the families of the service members who died performing heroic acts.


        November 26, 2012 at 7:57 am |
    • Dale

      One problem I saw in the Air Force is that many were given medals that were not deserved by the individual. They only received the medal because they knew the right person. If you asked them about their AFSC and what it entailed to work successfully in that AFSC, they could not tell you. But if you asked them if they knew the wing commander golf handicap or how to weasel out multiple DUI's , they knew these and many other non-AFSC related task without thinking about the tasks.

      November 26, 2012 at 6:29 am | Reply
    • USMC70114

      Mark, yeah – you're spot on. The secondary issue to your point are benefits associated with medals. If applying for a government job, medals are associated with points – higher the medal, the more points, the more points, you get the job. Also the MOH can have hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of benefits associated with it (admission of children to Service Academies, monthly stipend for life, etc). Not only do we discriminate based on rank, some Services are more likely to award medals than others. The Marine Corps is particularly stingy with awards while the Navy or Air Force passes out far more per capita.

      November 26, 2012 at 8:43 am | Reply
  89. Neil J

    website correction: http://valor.defense.gov/

    Ironically, shows that errors do happen.

    November 26, 2012 at 3:13 am | Reply
  90. glennrobert

    Processing out on coming home from Korea in 1953 the Lt ask if I received any awards or ribbons I said yes one silver star so she put it on my dd214. Did not ask for conformation which was good as I had none at the time. Later I got a newspaper picture of the General pinning it on me. The point being, this issue has always been confused even with the best of intentions.

    November 26, 2012 at 2:52 am | Reply
    • USA#!

      I know marine from Frozen Chosin who just got his medal of honor from korea. He has yet to receive his other US medals. He has a purple heart.

      November 26, 2012 at 4:50 am | Reply
  91. Nachu

    well, this is the Repubican elected politicians whom you have elected into that Office. They don't care about the our Economy as long as their accounts are full. They will do anything to stare away plans for boosting Economy.

    November 26, 2012 at 2:46 am | Reply
    • Dummycrat

      Ahh, another ignorant ranting lefty loon that never served. Coward with a keyboard.

      November 26, 2012 at 4:17 am | Reply
      • MC

        Who says he never served, you sad little piece of garbage?

        November 26, 2012 at 5:14 am |
  92. Mark

    This is important to a lot of people but it boils down to the simple fact that someone isn't doing their job. We have plenty of people in government not doing their job and it is sad if they were working so inefficiently in the private sector they wouldn't have a job. Especially the politicians.

    November 26, 2012 at 2:44 am | Reply
    • glennrobert

      What makes you think that the private sector is any more efficient than the government? Bankrupt businesses make lawyers rich.

      November 26, 2012 at 2:56 am | Reply
    • Daniel

      It's not a matter of someone not doing their job, but one guy who wants a complete 'database'. Those who received the awards probably don't care if their names on a stinkin list or not–I know I wouldn't and really wouldn't even look at it. I've received 2 Bronze Stars and many other awards/decorations. I know I got them and so do the people I served with. I also have the DD638 and the award itself in the off chance someone needs proof. Otherwise, who cares about a stupid database?

      November 26, 2012 at 4:51 am | Reply
      • Dave

        Silver Star has retirement implications therefore a list needs to be made and complete with all names.

        November 26, 2012 at 7:01 am |
      • tcp

        Not true, Dave. As long as the servicemember has the order and/or notation on their DD214, there is ZERO need for a published "list". This guy is trying to drum up free advertising for his website.

        November 26, 2012 at 7:35 am |
  93. J. McKrola

    Website quoted in paragraph 9 should be valor.defense.gov not valor.defese.mil
    You guys are FUBAR too

    November 26, 2012 at 2:35 am | Reply
  94. government cheese

    When CNN writes a story, go to Google to find out what story they are countering. Vets are not getting benefits after returning home. It has been going on for 4 years now.

    November 26, 2012 at 2:19 am | Reply
    • Daniel

      Why don't those vets have proof of their awards? I've got a DD638 and the award itself for all the ones I've gotten. The military preaches from day one to keep records of everything. Either these vets didn't do that or they never received the paperwork in the first place, which means they never really received the award. Either way, it's on them.

      November 26, 2012 at 4:54 am | Reply
  95. Don

    Sorry, meant to type "These men and women...."

    November 26, 2012 at 2:11 am | Reply
    • Dave

      Yet you didn't correct "way much more from us"?

      November 26, 2012 at 2:16 am | Reply
  96. Don

    Agreed 2/8, they men and women need jobs and way much more from us.

    November 26, 2012 at 2:11 am | Reply
  97. Don

    OK, while I agree that this important, it is can be dealt with in time, for now, we have way bigger issues...moving on.

    November 26, 2012 at 2:10 am | Reply
    • Dave

      Or "it is can be dealt with in time"?

      November 26, 2012 at 2:17 am | Reply
  98. 2/8

    Funny how politicians squabble over garbage like this, but every service member under the sun will laugh and tell them to keep their pieces of tin.

    November 26, 2012 at 2:06 am | Reply
    • bill stapp

      Everybody except the generals. They love to show off their awards at those parties.

      But the regular soldiers would be happier with a government that works hard to take care of the America that the soldiers are fighting to protect.

      November 26, 2012 at 7:14 am | Reply
      • 2/8


        November 26, 2012 at 9:28 am |
      • 2/8

        I should have said every service member who isn't sitting in their butts in the RE. My bad, lol.

        November 26, 2012 at 9:30 am |
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