U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper (TN-05) joined 48 colleagues in sending a letter to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, asking him to lower the precedent of the newly created Distinguished Warfare Medal (DWM). The DWM recognizes extraordinary service that directly impacts combat operations, while not being physically present in a combat zone. The Department of Defense placed it above the Bronze Star and Purple Heart in the order of precedence.
A bipartisan group of lawmakers sent a letter to Secretary Hagel, asking him to reverse the decision:
"While we applaud the intent of the medal, we do not agree with placing the DWM above the Bronze Start and Purple Heart in the order of precedent
"The current order of precedence for the DWM is a disservice to Purple Heart recipients who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our Country or were wounded while serving in combat. The imminent danger area requirement of the Bronze Star historically means that a service member has been deployed overseas for a military operation involving conflict with an opposing armed force. Our service members who are deployed in support of such military operations are separated from their families for extended periods of time and face the possibility of death or grievous bodily harm. Without any such requirement for the DWM, we also feel it is a disservice to our service members and veterans who have, or who currently are, serving overseas in hostile and austere conditions."
Secretary Hagel sent an initial letter of acknowledgment to Cooper, and on March 12 announced that the production of the medal would be suspended while the Dept. of Defense reviews the matter.
Cooper is a senior member of the House Armed Services Committee, serving as Ranking Member of the Strategic Forces Subcommittee and also sitting on the Tactical Air and Land Forces Subcommittee.