The Medal of Honor is the paramount honor in the U.S. military. Before issuing this supreme recognition, the consideration process takes a substantial amount of time—up to 18 months—highlighted by the president presenting the award.
But the prestige is only part of the whole. For the service members who earn this high honor, benefits last a lifetime. For starters, the Department of Veterans Affairs pays Medal of Honor recipients a $1,000-pension every month. Service members who earn a MOH while enlisted who end up retiring with at least 20 years of service get a 10-percent increase in retired pay. That increase cannot exceed the 75 percent maximum.
As though the actual medal didn’t come with enough prestige, plenty of honorary pomp and circumstance follows. Active and retired MOH recipients are invited to Presidential inaugurations and other festivities. Instead of chargeable leave, MOH military members and civil servants usually get administrative leave for these events.
Also, for MOH service members and retirees, uniforms can be worn anywhere at any time. Army members who earn a MOH have the added benefit of carrying a special card signed by the Secretary of Army. The card allows recipients who are non-military retirees or not on active duty to use military air transportation, space pending. Military bases are expected to house recipients in living quarters equal to the MOH’s esteem.
Another card issued by the Department of Defense goes to recipients and family members. This one offers privileges in morale, welfare and recreation activities. Children of MOH recipients reap the benefits for years to come, too. They are not subject to quotas at military academies, should they be qualified and intent on attending one.
Since the advent of this premier decoration in 1861, U.S. presidents have awarded about 3,400 to our bravest men and women. These heroes are forever recognized by the VA’s specially engraved headstones.
Photo thanks to Jay Jr. under creative common license on Flickr.