Awards and honors have been used by armies throughout history. There are many instances of documented proof or mention of awards or recognition being granted for battlefield courage or military merit in the armies of ancient Rome, Sparta, Persia and other civilizations and nation-states of the past. As old as these awards are is the equally ancient complaint among fighting men that those who bear the brunt of actual combat always seem to get slighted when it is time to issue honors.
Today’s military continues this tradition. America has been at war since the 9/11 terror attacks and many battles, large and small, have been fought in Iraq and Afghanistan. As a result of literally thousands of combat actions, soldiers and Marines have been awarded various medals for valor and military merit in these theaters of war. Not surprisingly, tales of misuse or abuse of the awards system abound and they are quite visible to those who are on the losing end of this issue – the front line troops that actually face combat on a daily basis.
As in past wars, American soldiers and Marines of enlisted rank and junior officers holding the rank of Captain and below are doing most of the fighting in these specific conflicts, yet they often are overlooked or short-changed when it comes to receiving appropriate recognition for individual acts of courage. Official records indicate that while numerous Bronze Star Medals have been awarded to these junior troops, an amazing number of these medals have been issued to more senior enlisted members and officers, many of whom never leave the relatively safe confines of forward operating bases. While many of these Bronze Stars are for meritorious service vice actual valor, it does appear that there is a good amount of bias in the favor of field grade officers and above, as well as senior non-commissioned officers, when awards boards in all branches decide who is going to receive military honors.
To counter this problem, all of the services have recently conducted or are in the process of conducting sweeping reviews of their awards processes. It will be interesting to see if actual progress will be made, resulting in a more equitable military awards system. One can only hope that the front line fighters will be more adequately recognized for their battlefield heroism.
Source by Mack Remington