Many medals and appurtenances are awarded based on the specific time and location of service. This information changes over time, and veterans can be surprised to learn they were entitled to medals they didn’t know about.
A common source for this information is the DD-214, which lists all the medals a veteran was authorized to receive at the time of their discharge. However, there are other resources available.
Character of Service
The character of service is a critical consideration for any veteran who hopes to receive benefits from the Veterans Administration. The department’s adjudicators have several criteria to use in determining the character of discharge.
The most important of these is the length and quality of service a former member provided to the United States. It should be of such quality and size that it can be characterized as honest, faithful and meritorious and benefit the nation.
In many cases, the characterization of military service is determined by a combination of factors: performance evaluations, deployment in hardship conditions, and a record of non-judicial punishment. While these things may not be a part of every veteran’s military service, they are essential considerations in determining the character of service for a particular veteran.
Whether a veteran is entitled to a medal of any kind depends on their character of service. It can be a tricky issue and often involves multiple agencies. Nevertheless, veterans can do a few simple things to determine their entitlement to medals. The first is to get a copy of their official military records from the military service branch. It can be done by submitting an online request via the Department of Defense (DOD) website or contacting your local Service Casualty Office.
Date of Enlistment
The enlistment date is among the most important for determining your entitlement to custom medals and awards. The enlistment date is usually fixed but can change if the military needs it to. This can occur due to test results, changes in placement or acceptance to the pre-military academy track.
As technicians research veterans’ records for information about their service, they also search for any awards and distinguishments that may have been awarded. They look at the veteran’s DD-214, their service record, and other documents from their service branch (e.g., a copy of a general order and unit chronologies).
A veteran’s awards are often recorded on the DD-214. The DD-214 includes the following:
- The military occupational specialty and rank.
- The character of service.
- The type of discharge.
- A list of awards the veteran has received.
Technicians at the NPRC look through this record for any awards and distinguishments that may have occurred during the veteran’s service. They also review other documents that contain awards and distinguishments information.
Technicians at the NPRC are tasked with helping veterans receive their awards and distinguishments. They assist veterans with obtaining copies of their awards, replacing lost or stolen medals, and finding out if they have any awards or distinguishments that need to be added to their service records. They are always looking for ways to serve our nation’s veterans better, and providing them with the information they need is vital to that mission.
Date of Discharge
The discharge date is critical information that can determine entitlement to medals. It is an essential data elements that should be verified and confirmed through chart review before it is downloaded to the abstractor.
A hospital’s expectation of when a patient will be discharged can help align the work of care teams to ensure timely patient transitions. The EDD, or Expected Discharge Date, is a value that should be entered as soon as possible for all patients admitted to the hospital.
This EDD is continually revised as the patient’s discharge progresses. It allows clinicians to track patient transitions and build consensus about when the patient should be ready for release.
It can also be used to identify whether or not a patient is eligible for reimbursement for delayed discharge (which can be up to 120 pounds sterling per day). A pilot study in an NHS teaching hospital examined how accurately clinical staff predicted the estimated discharge date and identified factors that may contribute to discrepancies between predictions and actual dates.
The study suggests that estimating the EDD is a process that should be introduced early in admission and continued daily by all clinicians to assist the patient discharge process. However, it is a challenging initiative to implement at the ward level.
Location of Service
Service location is an essential factor in determining eligibility for specific medals. Many awards require 30 days of service in a particular location, such as inside a country, air space, or territorial waters.
For example, a veteran who served in the Republic of Vietnam (RVN) can receive the RVN Campaign Medal and the RVN Gallantry Cross. The location of service recorded on their military personnel file will help determine if they qualify to receive these awards.
If you cannot find the award you are looking for on your military personnel file, you can request a copy/review of that file from your local veteran’s services or American Legion or VFW post. These organizations can provide you with a list of all the medals your military service earned, and they can also assist you in applying to receive your medals.
Once you have determined which medals you are entitled to, you must submit a form called DD-149 to your military department. This form will require you to present evidence supporting your entitlement claim. The military department will review your application and contact you with any further instructions.