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Medal of Honor

Definition

The Medal of Honor is the highest military decoration awarded by the United States government, recognizing acts of valor and extraordinary heroism above and beyond the call of duty. It is presented to service members in the U.S. Armed Forces by the President in the name of Congress. Recipients of the Medal of Honor may be entitled to additional VA benefits, such as increased pensions and eligibility for burial at Arlington National Cemetery.

Key Takeaways

  1. Medal of Honor is the highest military award given to members of the United States Armed Forces for distinguished acts of valor, courage, or gallantry.
  2. Recipients of the Medal of Honor enjoy several benefits including increased pension, a special entitlement to airplane and train seats, and invitations to medal-related ceremonies and events.
  3. The Medal of Honor is presented to the recipient by the President of the United States, in the name of Congress, making it unique in its full title of “Congressional Medal of Honor.”

Importance

The VA benefits term “Medal of Honor” is important because it signifies the highest military honor that can be awarded to a member of the United States armed forces.

This prestigious medal is bestowed upon individuals who have demonstrated extraordinary valor and selflessness in the face of great danger, and have gone beyond the call of duty during combat operations against an enemy.

Recipients of the Medal of Honor often become national heroes, inspiring fellow service members and civilians alike with their courage and sacrifice.

Moreover, these heroes are eligible for additional VA benefits and privileges that honor their remarkable service, ultimately improving the quality of their lives and nurturing a legacy that lasts for generations.

Explanation

The Medal of Honor serves as a symbol of recognition, respect, and gratitude for those who have made unparalleled contributions to the United States Armed Forces by displaying extraordinary acts of valor, selflessness, and dedication during combat. Established on December 21, 1861, the Medal of Honor is the highest military decoration awarded by the U.S. government.

Its main purpose is to acknowledge those who have not only put their own lives in jeopardy, but who demonstrated determined resolve during moments of great danger, often resulting in the protection and preservation of their fellow service members’ lives and the successful execution of critical missions. While the tangible medal embodies the very essence of exceptional service, it also provides various life-long benefits to its recipients. This prestigious accolade opens the door to an enriched lifestyle, with benefits encompassing healthcare, education, and financial support for Medal of Honor recipients and their families.

One such privilege is automatic eligibility for enrollment in the VA healthcare system, granting them access to comprehensive medical care and priority within the VA medical facilities. Additionally, recipients receive a monetary allowance, preferential hiring advantages for federal employment, and special access rights to military commissaries and exchanges. The Medal of Honor, therefore, is not just an emblem of honor; it serves as an enduring expression of gratitude from a nation whose freedom and safety are protected by the exceptional sacrifices of its bravest service members.

Examples of Medal of Honor

U.S. Army Specialist Ty Carter: Specialist Carter was awarded the Medal of Honor in 2013 for his courageous actions during the Battle of Kamdesh in Afghanistan on October 3,

His heroic acts included repeatedly running through heavy enemy fire to provide ammunition, assistance, and medical aid to his fellow soldiers. Carter’s resilience and bravery helped save the lives of his fellow soldiers, and his story is an example of the selflessness and commitment that exemplifies the Medal of Honor.

U.S. Marine Corps Sergeant Dakota Meyer: Sergeant Meyer received the Medal of Honor in 2011 for his heroic actions during the Battle of Ganjgal in Afghanistan on September 8,

Despite being under heavy enemy fire, Meyer entered a battle zone to rescue American and Afghan personnel who were trapped under fire. He made multiple trips into and out of the battle zone, ultimately saving the lives of 36 soldiers. Meyer’s actions display the level of valor and selflessness expected of a Medal of Honor recipient.

U.S. Army First Lieutenant Vernon Baker: First Lieutenant Baker was awarded the Medal of Honor in 1997 for his actions during World War II. On April 5-6, 1945, Baker led his platoon in an assault on heavily fortified enemy positions near Viareggio, Italy. Despite being wounded, he single-handedly destroyed multiple enemy positions, personally killed nine enemy soldiers, and led his men in capturing and securing their objective. His leadership and fighting spirit exemplify the qualities associated with the Medal of Honor.

FAQ: Medal of Honor VA Benefits

What is the Medal of Honor?

The Medal of Honor is the United States’ highest and most prestigious military decoration, awarded to service members who have distinguished themselves through acts of valor, courage, and self-sacrifice above and beyond the call of duty.

Who is eligible for Medal of Honor VA benefits?

Medal of Honor recipients, their immediate family members, and surviving spouses are eligible for certain VA benefits specifically associated with the Medal of Honor. These benefits are in addition to any other military or VA benefits for which recipients may already be eligible.

What types of VA benefits are available to Medal of Honor recipients?

Medal of Honor recipients are eligible to receive additional benefits from the VA, including special pension enhancements, priority healthcare, honorary entitlement to interment at Arlington National Cemetery, and a unique Medal of Honor headstone or marker upon the recipient’s passing, among other benefits.

How do I apply for Medal of Honor VA benefits?

To apply for Medal of Honor VA benefits, you must submit an application with supporting documentation to the Department of Veterans Affairs. You can do this online, by mail, or in-person at a local VA office. It is essential to include proof of the Medal of Honor award, such as a DD Form 214 or other official documentation.

Can Medal of Honor recipients receive VA healthcare benefits?

Yes, Medal of Honor recipients are eligible for priority healthcare within the VA healthcare system. They receive priority access to care, appointments, and medications, as well as exemption from copayments for VA healthcare services and medications.

What is the Medal of Honor pension enhancement?

The Medal of Honor pension enhancement is an additional amount of monthly pension paid to Medal of Honor recipients above their standard military pension. This pension enhancement is adjusted annually, based on the cost-of-living index. It is tax-free and paid for the recipient’s lifetime.

Related VA Benefit Terms

  • Service-Connected Disability Compensation
  • Veterans Pension Benefits
  • GI Bill Educational Assistance
  • Veterans Health Care
  • Survivor and Dependent Benefits

Sources for More Information