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VFW Leads Effort with Other VSO/MSOs, Asks President Obama to Lower Drone Medal Ranking

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March 12, 2013

The Honorable Barack H. Obama  
President of the United States  
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20500  

Dear Mr. President:  

On behalf of millions of veterans, service members and their families, we the undersigned leaders of the nation’s largest Veterans and Military Service Organizations write to request your personal involvement to lower the Pentagon’s new Distinguished Warfare Medal on the military order of precedence. The Distinguished Warfare Medal currently ranks 9th among some five dozen active medals and ribbons — higher than the Soldier’s Medal, the Bronze Star with combat “V” device, and the Purple Heart.  

No one disputes that drone operators, cyber warriors and others are having a tremendous and immediate impact on battlefields far away, but to create a new “war” medal that doesn’t require physically serving in a warzone, and then to rank it above valor and injury medals that can only be earned in combat, has created a huge morale problem within the ranks. Tens of thousands have already spoken out in opposition, to include Members of Congress, who have introduced bipartisan legislation to force the Pentagon to lower the medal’s status to below the Purple Heart.   

After weeks of defending its position, the Pentagon announced that Secretary Hagel has directed a formal review of the medal’s ranking, and that Joint Chiefs Chairman General Dempsey will lead the review. We view this as a very encouraging sign, but demoting the medal below the Purple Heart is not yet a done deal, which is why we are soliciting your personal involvement. The Pentagon has enough challenges to overcome in the months and years ahead. They don’t need a self-inflicted morale problem added to the list.  

Respectfully,  

JOHN R. "DOC" McCAUSLIN, CMSgt, USAF (Ret.) 
Chief Executive Officer
Air Force Sergeants Association 

STEWART M. HICKEY  
National Executive Director
AMVETS 

RADM CASEY COANE, U.S. Navy (Ret.)
Executive Director
Association of the United States Navy 

LARRY A. POLZIN  
National Commander  
Disabled American Veterans 

MARK A. KILGORE  
National President  
Fleet Reserve Association 

SHELTON OHERN 
National Commander  
Jewish War Veterans of the U.S.A. 

ROBERT S. DONAGHUE  
President  
Marine Corps Reserve Association  

ROBERT G. CERTAIN 
Executive Director
Military Chaplains Association of the USA 

VADM NORBERT R. RYAN, USN (Ret)  
President
Military Officers Association of America  

BRUCE McKENTY 
National Commander
Military Order of the Purple Heart 

JACK KLIMP, Lt. Gen., U.S. Marine Corps (Ret.)  
President National
Association for Uniformed Services  

H. GENE OVERSTREET 
President  
Non Commissioned Officers Association 

WILLIAM M. WALKER III, Colonel, USAF (Ret.)  
President  
Reserve Officers Association  

JAMES E. ‘Jim’ KOUTZ  
National Commander
The American Legion 

RICK DELANEY  
National President  
The Retired Enlisted Association  

CW4 (Ret.) JACK DU TEIL 
Executive Director
U.S. Army Warrant Officers Association 

RANDY REID  
Executive Director  
U.S. Coast Guard Chief Petty Officers Association  

JOHN E. HAMILTON 
Commander-in-Chief
Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States 

JOHN ROWAN  
National President/CEO  
Vietnam Veterans of America  

 

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