U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) today called on the Secretary of the Army to award veterans from earlier eras the Combat Medic Badge that they have earned but have been blocked from receiving. Currently, eligibility only extends to those who have served since September 18, 2001.
"Across Pennsylvania there are veterans who put everything on the line for our country, and they deserve to be recognized for the sacrifices they've made," Senator Casey said. "The Army did the right thing by awarding our 9/11 vets these medals, but there still remains a generation of medical personnel that served in Vietnam and the Korean War that have yet to have their service recognized."
In 2008, the Army expanded the eligibility for the awarding of the Combat Medic Badge and retroactively awarded badges to qualifying medics who began serving after the 9/11 attacks. The Army's decision has left veterans from earlier eras like Korea and Vietnam out in the cold. Senator Casey sent a letter to Secretary McHugh calling on the Army to immediately expand the awarding of this badge so that veterans who began serving in the Korean War and forward can receive them.
The Combat Medic Badge is an Army award for medics who are personally present and under enemy fire in active ground combat that satisfactorily perform medical duties. The award was created in 1945 and initially could only be awarded to medics serving in Infantry units. The award has remained in existence since its inception, but the eligibility criteria for the award has gone through several expansions. The 2008 expansion of eligibility was done primarily to recognize MEDEVAC crewmembers that came under hostile fire during performance of their duties.
Senator Casey outlined his concerns in a letter sent today to Secretary of the Army John McHugh:
The Honorable John M. McHugh
Department of the Army
101 Army Pentagon
Washington, DC 20310-0101
Dear Secretary McHugh:
On November 10, 2011, I requested that the Army change the eligibility dates for awarding the Combat Medic Badge (CMB) for medical personnel, who were assigned, attached or under the operational control of combat aviation units retroactive to the start of the Korean War. As noted in the previous correspondence, the Army expanded eligibility criteria for the CMB to allow medics in aviation units to qualify for the badge, and made the policy retroactive to September 18, 2001. There still remains a generation of medical personnel that served in Vietnam and the Korean War that have yet to have their service recognized.
Recently, I was contacted by a constituent who served as a medical doctor in Vietnam. He described a helicopter mission from Chu Lai to Da Nang in which his fellow medics showed remarkable courage in rescuing three wounded soldiers under heavy fire, and stabilizing them. This is just one example of the quiet heroism and extraordinary service by these medics during Vietnam and Korea. It is time we recognized their valor in battle and unique service to this country.
We look forward to your expedited response and adjudication of this critical issue. As always, thank you for your continued service to our country.
Robert P. Casey, Jr.
United States Senator