Senator Pat Toomey Backs Combat Valor Medal Ranking Bill
FOLSOM, Pa. – Monday at Delaware County’s VFW Post 928, U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) and Congressman Pat Meehan (PA-7) hosted veterans from across Pennsylvania to show their support for ranking combat valor medals above those for drone operators in the military’s order of precedence.
During the event, Sen. Toomey announced he is cosponsoring a bipartisan Senate bill introduced by Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) to ensure combat medals like the Bronze Star with valor device and the Purple Heart rank above the new Distinguished Warfare Medal. The new medal honors drone operators and others not in direct combat.
Congressman Meehan is the cosponsor of similar legislation in the House.
“Outstanding achievement in the military should be honored and accomplishments by those not involved in direct combat operations should be encouraged and recognized. I also realize that citations should stay current with the ways technology allows us to protect our nation and that’s what the Distinguished Warfare Medal is designed to do. However, I strongly believe our service men and women who act with particular valor and courage on the front lines, in harm’s way, should be held in the highest esteem. That’s what I heard repeatedly from Pennsylvania’s veterans and that’s why I am cosponsoring legislation that would prevent the Distinguished Warfare Medal from being ranked higher than medals such as the Bronze Star with valor device and the Purple Heart,” said Sen. Toomey.
“It takes the hard work and professionalism of countless Americans in uniform to be successful on the battlefield. Their actions and service deserve to be honored. Yet awards for actions at home cannot and should not be ranked higher than those conferred for valor and service in combat. Legislation I’ve cosponsored to address the order of precedence for the non-combat Distinguished Warfare Medal will help ensure our combat heroes – our wounded, our fallen – are given the respect they deserve,” said Congressman Meehan.
Sen. Toomey, last month, asked the defense secretary why the Pentagon had decided to rank a new medal for drone operators and others not in involved in direct ground combat above some combat valor medals, such as the Bronze Star with valor device and the Purple Heart. Sen. Toomey received a response that said having spoken at length to the service secretaries and chiefs, Secretary Chuck Hagel was convinced the new Distinguished Warfare Medal was properly ranked among other medals. Notwithstanding Secretary Hagel’s March 7 letter to Sen. Toomey, the Pentagon announced March 12 that the secretary will re-evaluate this decision.