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Awards and Decorations


Awards and Decorations, in the context of VA benefits, refers to the various military honors and recognitions bestowed upon service members for their exceptional achievements, performance, or acts of valor while serving in the armed forces. These can include medals, ribbons, badges, or other symbols of distinction. Such honors play a significant role in acknowledging and appreciating the sacrifices and accomplishments of veterans and can potentially impact the range of benefits they become eligible for.

Key Takeaways

  1. Awards and Decorations are given to recognize the service, achievements, and conduct of military personnel throughout their career.
  2. These honors can include medals, ribbons, badges, and citations, each with specific criteria based on exemplary performance, bravery, or contributions to the mission.
  3. Receiving Awards and Decorations can not only enhance a service member’s military record but also qualify them for additional privileges and benefits under the VA system.


The term “Awards and Decorations” holds significant importance in the context of VA benefits, primarily as a means of recognizing and honoring the exceptional service, achievements, and valor of military veterans.

These tangible symbols of acknowledgement serve to not only demonstrate gratitude for their sacrifices, but also to validate their experiences and contributions to national security.

Furthermore, certain awards and decorations can directly impact a veteran’s eligibility for specific benefits and programs, making it imperative for veterans to be aware of their own military records and the potential advantages they may hold.

Ultimately, Awards and Decorations are a crucial component in ensuring that veterans receive the appropriate support, recognition, and access to resources they have duly earned through their service.


Awards and Decorations serve as an essential component of the VA benefits system, fulfilling a crucial purpose in recognizing and honoring the service, sacrifices, and achievements of military personnel. These distinctions serve not only as a token of gratitude but also as a means to boost morale, motivation, and esprit de corps among the active-duty, retired, and veteran members of the Armed Forces.

By acknowledging the extraordinary acts of valor, meritorious service, and distinguished contributions, the military community fosters a sense of pride and unity, and upholds the ideals and traditions that define the branches of service. Additionally, Awards and Decorations are used to acknowledge the challenges faced during military service and the impact of that service on veterans’ lives.

As part of the VA benefits system, these distinctions may also play a role in determining eligibility for various benefits, such as healthcare, disability compensation, and education. By incorporating the evaluation of Awards and Decorations within the benefits determination process, it ensures that the unique needs and circumstances of each veteran are considered, thereby strengthening the overall support system.

In this regard, Awards and Decorations serve a dual purpose: they stand as a symbol of appreciation for the individual’s contributions and experiences, while also shaping the resources and services that the VA provides to veterans and their families.

Examples of Awards and Decorations

Awards and Decorations in the context of VA Benefits usually refer to official recognitions, commendations, and medals earned by U.S. military personnel during their time of service. These awards could impact eligibility for certain VA benefits and are important to document when applying for assistance. Here are three real-world examples of awards and decorations:

Purple Heart: The Purple Heart is awarded to members of the U.S. Armed Forces who have been wounded or killed in action due to enemy action. Veterans who receive this award may qualify for additional VA benefits, including a higher disability compensation rate and preference for VA healthcare enrollment.

Bronze Star: The Bronze Star is awarded to members of the U.S. Armed Forces for acts of heroism or meritorious service in a combat zone. This award can be important when applying for certain VA benefits, especially if the decoration is tied to a specific injury or disability incurred during service.

Medal of Honor: The Medal of Honor is the highest military decoration awarded by the U.S. government. It is presented to individuals who have displayed extraordinary acts of valor and courage in the face of an enemy. Recipients of this award may qualify for additional benefits, including an increased pension and the Medal of Honor Pension.

FAQ: Awards and Decorations

What are Awards and Decorations in the military?

Awards and Decorations are honors bestowed upon military personnel for various achievements, performance, and service. They can include medals, ribbons, badges, and citations, which acknowledge the recipient’s contributions to their unit, branch, or overall service.

What is the difference between an award and a decoration?

An award is a broad term that can refer to any type of recognition given to a service member, while a decoration is a specific type of award that is typically presented in the form of a medal or ribbon. Decorations are typically more prestigious than other types of awards and may require higher levels of achievement or service for eligibility.

How does a service member become eligible for Awards and Decorations?

Eligibility criteria for various Awards and Decorations can differ, but generally, they are based on the service member’s performance, achievements, acts of valor, or distinguished service. Nominations for Awards and Decorations can come from the service member’s chain of command or, in some cases, from fellow service members, and a review process is conducted before granting the award.

What are some examples of Awards and Decorations in the U.S. military?

Examples of Awards and Decorations in the U.S. military include the Medal of Honor, Distinguished Service Cross, Silver Star, Bronze Star, Purple Heart, and the Defense Meritorious Service Medal. There are also various service-specific awards and decorations for each branch of the U.S. military, such as the Army Commendation Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Medal, and Air Force Achievement Medal.

Do Awards and Decorations carry any tangible benefits for the recipient?

While the primary purpose of Awards and Decorations is to recognize and honor the achievements of military personnel, some awards may provide additional benefits to the recipients. For example, recipients of certain awards may receive a stipend or bonus pay, or they may earn additional points toward promotion. Awards and Decorations also offer intangible benefits, such as elevated status and respect among peers and in the military community.

Related VA Benefit Terms

  • Medals and Ribbons
  • Purple Heart Award
  • Meritorious Service Award
  • National Defense Service Medal
  • Distinguished Service Cross

Sources for More Information