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Southern Utah Vets Aid, St. George Utah

Did you know that one of your benefits as a military veteran is to recieve 1 additional issue of all your awards and medals?  You only get to do this once in a lifetime, so if you have lost some of your awards along the way you can request them from the Archives in St. Louis. 

On your DD-214, which is basically your discharge document from your branch of service,  there should be an area where it states the awards you earned while serving.  But here’s the thing — if there are awards that ‘catch up’ with you AFTER you leave the military, they will not be on your DD-214 nor will they ever show up there because you are “out of sight and out of mind” at this point. 

Also, some awards aren’t even in existence, yet, when you get out of the military.  A case in point for my situation is I served as a Marine Drill Instructor until late 1971 and I was discharged in May, 1972.  It wasn’t until the mid-90’s that the Corps adopted and approved a ribbon for any Marine who had been a DI dating back to 1950.  When I updated my ribbons, etc., recently I included the new DI ribbon.  It isn’t on my DD-214 and it never will be.  But, it’s definitely on my ribbon rack now!

Getting back to the medals, I sent for my once in a lifetime re-issue to the nice folks down in St. Louis and was told that it could take a couple of years before they got to me.  My request also had to be in writing.  I’m going to give you a website to look at, because who you get hold of to obtain your medals depends on your branch of service.  I do know the address and phone number for Marines and Navy is:

Navy Personnel Command (PERS-312B)

1 Archive Dr.

St. Louis MO 63138

Tel: 314 538-2311 or 2313

For all other branches please open this website and follow directions:

http://www.archives.gov/veterans/replace-medals.html

 

As I said I was discharged from the Marines in 1972, got my DD-214, and went home to Wisconsin.  In 2009 I learned about the DI ribbon and about the benefit to receive a re-issue of medals.  By the way, there is NO CHARGE for your medals.  I wrote my request and went on with life. Time went by and I forgot about it.  In August, 2013 I went out to the mailbox and ‘lo and behold’ there’s a big package from St. Louis!  I opened it up and started doing an inventory, and when I was done I learned there were 4 awards that the Awards Section of the Department of Navy recognized that I did not have any idea about.  They were:

A 2nd Presidential Unit Citation (PUC) – I was already wearing 1 award of the PUC so I’ve added the little bronze colored star to the ribbon

A 2nd Meritorious Unit Commendation (MUC) – again, I was already wearing the ribbon and have now added the star

A Navy Unit Commendation (NUC)

And the Republic of Vietnam Civil Action ribbon

The DI ribbon was not on the list from the St. Louis Archives, but I proudly display it with full knowledge that I am entitled to it. Every Drill Instructor out there has earned the award and they’re wearing it on their ‘cabbage’ bars, too.

What the Archives does NOT have to send you are any foreign medals.  You have to purchase them through any number of companies that sell awards and such, like Medals of America.  Also, any attachments like the combat ‘V’ device may or may not be included in the shipment.  You can purchase those, too, to complete your medals or ribbons.  What you will get along with the other goodies is a full check-list and inventory of what you are entitled to according to your branch of service.

In the end it took twice as long for me to receive my free re-issue of my awards but it was worth the wait.  The bonus to all this was learning about the awards that caught up to me somewhere along the line over the past 40 years.  So if you contact the Archives and send in your request have patience, it may take awhile. 

Semper Fi

Pat Lisi

 

 

 

 

 

 

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