Casey Calls on Army Secretary to Finally Award Hard-Earned Medals to Pre-9/11 Veterans

2008 Rule Allowed 9/11 Era MEDEVAC Medics to Receive Prestigious Badge; Army Has Not Expanded Eligibility to Vets from Earlier Eras

Casey: Army Should Immediately Recognize the Sacrifice of Our Heroes

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) today called on Secretary of the Army John McHugh to immediately award veterans from earlier eras the combat badges that they have earned but have been blocked from receiving. 

“Across Pennsylvania there are veterans from earlier wars such as Vietnam and Korea who put everything on the line for our country, and they deserve to be recognized for the sacrifices they’ve made,” Senator Casey said. “The Army did the right thing by expanding the eligibility criteria for these medals for our post-9/11 veterans, but they didn’t go far enough – it is time to honor the sacrifice of every eligible medic veteran going back to Korea.”

In 2008, the Army expanded the eligibility for the awarding of the Combat Medic Badge and retroactively awarded badges to qualifying medics who began serving after the 9/11 attacks. The Army’s decision has left veterans from earlier eras like Korea and Vietnam out in the cold. Today, Casey sent a letter to Secretary McHugh calling on the Army to immediately expand the awarding of this badge so that veterans who began serving in the Korean war and forward can receive them.

The Korean War was the first war in which the Army used medics inserted onto the battlefield by helicopter to remove wounded personnel, making them the first group of veterans eligible for the Combat Medic Badge.  During the Vietnam War, helicopter-borne medics were heavily relied upon to extract wounded service members from the battlefield and speed them to higher levels of care.

The Combat Medic Badge is an Army award for medics who are personally present and under enemy fire in active ground combat that satisfactorily perform medical duties.  The award was created in 1945 and initially could only be awarded to medics serving in Infantry units.  The award has remained in existence since its inception, but the eligibility criteria for the award has gone through several expansions. The 2008 expansion of eligibility was done primarily to recognize MEDEVAC crewmembers that came under hostile fire during performance of their duties.  MEDEVAC crews are essential to the modern battlefield and are part of the reason for the low death rates of service members in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The full text of Senator Casey’s letter is below:

Dear Secretary McHugh,

We write to you today requesting that you change the eligibility dates for the awarding of the Combat Medic Badge (CMB) for medical personnel, who are assigned, attached or under the operational control of combat aviation units retroactive to the start of the Korean War.  Beginning with the Korean War, and continuing through to our current conflicts, medics assigned to aviation units have flown onto the battlefield and treated and evacuated their comrades while braving many of the same hazards.  In June 2008, the Army expanded the eligibility criteria for the CMB to allow medics in aviation units to qualify for the badge, and made the policy retroactive to September 18, 2001.  It is time we recognize our aviation medics of previous conflicts by changing the retroactive eligibility dates.

The retroactive adjustment to the CMB’s eligibility dates comes at little to-no-cost to the Army, nor would this modification be labor-intensive.  Former aviation-unit medics will need to produce the documents to prove their qualifying service, placing the onus on them to prove they meet the criteria.

We ask you to move swiftly in changing the eligibility dates for the awarding of the CMB for medics in combat aviation units.  Just as in Afghanistan and Iraq, medics assigned to aviation units have saved countless lives in prior conflicts by evacuating our wounded personnel to higher levels of care.  By adjusting the eligibility dates for the CMB to include the veterans of these conflicts you will allow former medics in combat units to receive their just rewards.

Thank you for your consideration on this matter, and your continued service to our country.

Sincerely,

Robert P. Casey, Jr.
United States Senator

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