U.S. Senator Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) today released the following statement regarding reports that Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel will order a review of the ranking of a new medal for drone operators and others not in direct ground combat above some long-standing combat valor medals.
"The medals awarded to men and women in harm's way, facing enemy fire, are very special indeed and should remain so," said Sen. Toomey. "I appreciate that it appears Secretary Hagel has heard my concerns and those of Pennsylvania's service members. It seems he has agreed to take another look. I wrote former Defense Secretary Panetta to ask for his rationale on the medal's ranking when I first learned of this decision in February. While I fully support appropriate recognition of all military personnel whose extraordinary actions make a difference in combat operations, I am concerned about this new medal's ranking in DOD's order of precedence. Pennsylvania's veterans and others have told me of their unease with ranking the new medal above the Bronze Star Medal with valor device and the Purple Heart."
The new Distinguished Warfare Medal is set to be awarded to pilots of unmanned aircraft, cyber war experts and personnel involved in combat operations who are neither physically present nor in a war zone facing risks of traditional combat service participants.