New military medal meets with opposition

March 6, 2013
Rep. Tim Murphy

A new military medal approved for the changing face of war is not being embraced by veterans and a few federal lawmakers.

U.S. Rep. Tim Murphy, R-18th District, said he introduced legislation Friday to block the Department of Defense from ranking the new Distinguished Warfare Medal equal to or above the Purple Heart because some of its recipients, including drone pilots, could be serving thousands of miles from combat.

“I know personally from my Navy service with combat-wounded veterans at Walter Reed that their Purple Heart should and must rank above the Distinguished Warfare Medal,” Murphy, of Upper St. Clair, stated in a news release. “If the Pentagon will not reconsider the decision to rank this medal above the Purple Heart, the House will take action.”

While announcing the new medal Feb. 13, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta stated technological advances allow service members to make significant impacts on battle from great distances by engaging unmanned aerial and underwater vehicles and using cyber science and missile defense systems.

Medals these service members qualified for did not recognize outstanding accomplishments on the battlefield.

“This new medal recognizes the changing character of warfare and those who make extraordinary contributions to it,” stated Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. “The criteria for this award will be highly selective and reflect high standards.”

The problem with the medal involves the Purple Heart’s associations with courage, sacrifice, heroism and being wounded on a battlefield, said Washington County Veterans Affairs Director Barry Grimm.

“You’re playing with pride,” Grimm said Tuesday.

He said veterans would “hate to see that disdained.”

The new medal cannot be awarded for valor and will not detract from such medals as the Medal of Honor and Silver Cross, the DOD stated.

Scott Beveridge is a North Charleroi native who has lived most of his life in nearby Rostraver Township. He is a general assignments reporter focusing on investigative journalism and writing stories about the mid-Mon Valley. He has a bachelor's degree from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and a master's from Duquesne University. Scott spent three weeks in Vietnam in 2004 as a foreign correspondent under an International Center for Journalists fellowship.

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