U.S. Senator Susan Collins today released this statement following an announcement by the Secretary of Defense that it will stop production of the Distinguished Warfare Medal pending a 30-day study to determine its appropriate place in the military's order of precedence.
Senator Collins first contacted the Department of Defense with her concerns on March 5th after concerns were raised by veterans in Maine.
In a letter to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel today, Senator Collins explained that while she supports awarding the Distinguished Warfare Medal to those who have earned it, she has serious concerns that it should not supersede the recognition earned by service members who have earned other medals, such as the Bronze Star and Purple Heart.
Following is the full text of Senator Collins' letter to Secretary Hagel:
"I am writing to follow up on my concerns that were recently conveyed to your office regarding the precedence that the Department of Defense has given to the Distinguished Warfare Medal (DWM). While I appreciate the importance of recognizing the service of the operators of remotely piloted aircraft and cyber warfare specialists, I am concerned that the DWM supersedes the recognition earned by service members who have exhibited bravery and valor on the battlefield, such as the Bronze Star and Purple Heart. I have heard from many veterans in Maine who share this concern.
"I fully agree that there may be circumstances where the contributions of our service members involved in unmanned vehicle operations and cyber defense and warfare warrant recognition and commendation for extraordinary achievement. It is clear, however, that the dangers facing a service member controlling a remotely piloted aircraft or manning a computer are not the same as those who have fought on the ground, air, and sea in conflicts throughout our history, from the American Revolution to World War I and II, Korea, Vietnam, and in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"So many of our nation's service members and veterans have sacrificed their lives or suffered wounds that they live with every day to protect the freedoms we hold dear. I believe strongly that placing the DWM in higher position than the Bronze Star and Purple Heart in the order of precedence unnecessarily diminishes the honor they have earned for having risked their lives for this nation.
"It is my understanding that you have agreed to reevaluate the precedence of the DWM, and I appreciate your taking into account the concerns of the men and women who serve and have served in uniform as this matter is reviewed. I look forward to hearing from you on this important matter."