Senator Lisa Murkowski has received word from Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel that he has revisited the controversial decision of his predecessor Leon Panetta and will not proceed with plans to decorate military men and women who control drones over combat veterans -- including Purple Heart recipients injured or killed in combat. Instead, Hagel announced that the award will be bestowed as a "distinguishing device" to be attached to existing medals, instead of a new classification and rank.
In a letter (attached) to Senator Murkowski, Hagel explains that
"I have determined that such recognition is best accomplished through the creation of a distinguishing device that may be affixed to existing medals at various levels instead of a separate medal."
Senator Murkowski originally contested the decision publicly in early March, telling the Pentagon that "combat awards are sacred" and therefore should not be demoted below technological advancements that do not place military members in harm's way.
"I commend Secretary Hagel's decision today to not put a higher value on the bravery of our military men and women who operate drone vehicles than that of service members who have faced gunfire and other physical threats," said Murkowski. "The valor and commitment demonstrated by drone controllers in our present conflicts is commendable and honorable; I deeply appreciate Secretary Hagel finding a solution that pays proper respect to all involved."