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Public Statements

Letter to Secretary Hagel - On the ranking of the Distinguished Warfare Medal

Press Release

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and Ranking Member Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) sent Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel a letter addressing the ranking of the Distinguished Warfare Medal (DWM).

In the letter, the senators highlighted concerns of adverse impacts of ranking the medal above awards earned for actions on the battlefield.

"Although we are supportive of this new medal, we are concerned that it is given precedence above awards earned by service members for actions on the battlefield, such as the Bronze Star Medal and Purple Heart."

The letter continued, "The Air Medal was created, in 1942, to raise the morale of airmen. This caused a strong adverse reaction by the ground troops, particularly the infantry riflemen who suffered the heaviest losses and endured the greatest hardships. In response, General of the Army George Marshall recommended that the President establish the Bronze Star Medal, citing the hardships borne by ground troops who bravely "lead miserable lives of extreme discomfort and are the ones who must close in personal combat with the enemy.' President Roosevelt authorized the Bronze Star Medal in February 1944 to recognize servicemembers who distinguish themselves by heroic or meritorious achievement or service, not involving participation in aerial flight, in connection with military or naval operations against an enemy of the United States.

"Placing the DWM on the list of precedence above the Bronze Star Medal is likely to cause the same type of adverse impact to morale that was recognized by General Marshall almost seventy years ago. Like so many of the veterans groups who have expressed their displeasure with this recent announcement, we are very concerned about the message that this decision sends to those brave veterans of our Nation's wars since 1941 whose heroism and meritorious service has been recognized by the Bronze Star Medal.

"Mr. Secretary, we trust that the judgment you gained from your combat experience as an enlisted soldier in Vietnam will inform your decision about the appropriate precedence of the DWM in relation to the Bronze Star Medal and the Purple Heart."

The text of the letter follows:

March 7, 2013

The Honorable Charles T. Hagel
Secretary of Defense
1000 Defense Pentagon
Washington, DC 20301-1000

Dear Secretary Hagel:

We are writing to ask you to reconsider the level-of-precedence of the Distinguished Warfare Medal (DWM) established by Secretary Panetta on February 13, 2013. Although we are supportive of this new medal, we are concerned that it is given precedence above awards earned by service members for actions on the battlefield, such as the Bronze Star Medal and Purple Heart.

The Air Medal was created, in 1942, to raise the morale of airmen. This caused a strong adverse reaction by the ground troops, particularly the infantry riflemen who suffered the heaviest losses and endured the greatest hardships. In response, General of the Army George Marshall recommended that the President establish the Bronze Star Medal, citing the hardships borne by ground troops who bravely "lead miserable lives of extreme discomfort and are the ones who must close in personal combat with the enemy." President Roosevelt authorized the Bronze Star Medal in February 1944 to recognize servicemembers who distinguish themselves by heroic or meritorious achievement or service, not involving participation in aerial flight, in connection with military or naval operations against an enemy of the United States.

Placing the DWM on the list of precedence above the Bronze Star Medal is likely to cause the same type of adverse impact to morale that was recognized by General Marshall almost seventy years ago. Like so many of the veterans groups who have expressed their displeasure with this recent announcement, we are very concerned about the message that this decision sends to those brave veterans of our Nation's wars since 1941 whose heroism and meritorious service has been recognized by the Bronze Star Medal.

Mr. Secretary, we trust that the judgment you gained from your combat experience as an enlisted soldier in Vietnam will inform your decision about the appropriate precedence of the DWM in relation to the Bronze Star Medal and the Purple Heart. We look forward to hearing from you on this important matter.

Sincerely,

Carl Levin, Chairman

James M. Inhofe, Ranking Member


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