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The Defense Department wants to repeal a decades-old law restricting a service member to receiving only one Medal of Honor, saying the “V” device added for subsequent awards seems too little for someone who has performed such a valorous act.
Criteria for the nation’s highest award for valor would not change, and double awards would remain rare. Of 3,465 Medals of Honor, only 19 people have received two awards, all in the 19th and early 20th centuries.
DoD’s request to allow medals, not V devices, for subsequent awards is included in a package of proposed legislation sent to Congress on April 26, and introduced as draft legislation on May 14 by Rep. Buck McKeon, R-Calif., the House Armed Services Committee chairman.
The committee will use the DoD package as the basis for the 2014 defense authorization bill that armed services subcommittees will begin writing next week.
In a statement accompanying the proposal, defense officials said the request “is based on providing adequate recognition to a service member who performs a valorous act worthy of the nation’s most prestigious military decoration.”
“If a service member were to perform a subsequent valorous act that resulted in award of a subsequent Medal of Honor, the member should be recognized with another Medal of Honor, not with a ‘V’ device on the previously awarded Medal of Honor,” the statement says.
The Defense Department is not asking for a similar change in the one-medal-per-person limit for Distinguished Service Medals and the service crosses.
Medal of Honor recipients receive $1,000 a month in special pay as part of their award. The DoD legislative proposal specifically rejects the idea of providing twice the pay for anyone who receives more than one medal.