Can Anyone Earn A USA Military Medal?

Chances are, we have all had that encounter with a hero. 

Whether it was on television, at a Fourth of July parade or a Memorial Day service, there are courageous heroes in our communities who have risked their lives with a life of service in the United States Military. 

When you see someone proudly displaying a military medal on their uniform, you know that you are standing witness to a great American hero. They have risked their lives for the country and their fellow servicemen and are in an elite club of extraordinary heroes. 

While there are a range of military medals that can be awarded, have you wondered ever if anyone receive USA military medals

In short, the answer is no. You must be a service member of the United States Military. But, sometimes, if that person is deceased, the family of that person will be awarded the military medal instead. And there are some cases where the action of heroism does not have to be in combat.

Here is a snap-shot of what a service member of the United States Military must do to be awarded some of the most prestigious honors:

  1. The Medal of Honor

This is the highest accolade a service member can be given. Introduced in 1861, the US Medal of Honor has only been issued just over 3,000 times to soldiers who have risked their lives in a way that was clearly above and beyond the call of duty. This medal is always awarded to the individual—or their family—by the President of the United States himself. It is also important to note that the Army, Navy and Air Force all have a different version of this medal. 

  1. Distinguished Service Cross

This is the second highest accolade that the military awards. It is saved for those who have gone above and beyond on the battlefield against the enemy, in a military operation or serving with a friendly force. This medal means that the person has still gone greatly above and beyond the call of duty, but it was not extreme enough to merit the Medal of Honor. 

  1. Distinguished Service Medal 

Any soldier who displays exceptional meritorious service while on duty will be awarded this medal. However, it is important to note that the criteria for this medal is so tough that generally only general officers are awarded the honor. However, there have been some rare occasions where a sitting President has granted approval for the medal to be awarded to someone outside the military if their actions have met the same criteria. 

  1. Silver Star and Bronze Star Medals

As a member of the US military, there are several types of star medals that are awarded for great acts of bravery. It is the third highest military combat decoration and is given to someone who has displayed acts of bravery against the enemy, during a military operation or serving with friendly allies. As the awards listed above the Star medals, being awarded this honor is extremely rare and the heroic achievement is generally out of the ordinary. 

  1. Purple Heart

What better person to establish this medal than the first President of the United States—George Washington! But for a while, the purple heart was not being awarded in the military!  That is until it was reinstated by General Douglas MacArthur and has quickly become one of the most honorable awards one can receive.

It is a great honor to be a service member for the United States military, so it is reasonable that these awards are reserved for service members only. This group of recipients showcase the very best of what Americans are.