WASHINGTON – Today U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen (both D-Md.) and Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) wrote to the Chairman and
Ranking Members of the Senate and House Armed Services Committees urging them
to include the World War I (WWI) Valor Medals Review Act in the final FY 2020
National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) conference report.
bipartisan legislation would ensure that minority veterans who may have been
passed over for a Medal of Honor during WWI – often because of racist attitudes
at the time – have their files reviewed. It has 22 Senate cosponsors and was
included in the House-passed NDAA. It is also supported by more than 25
Veterans Service Organizations, including the VFW and the American Legion.
“Given the longstanding precedent of Congressionally-authorized
valor medals reviews and the strong bipartisan support for this review and the
work of the Valor Medals Review Task Force, we respectfully request that final
conference report include the text of the World War I Valor Medals Review
Act,” the Senators wrote.
addition to Senators Cardin, Van Hollen and Blunt, the letter was signed by Senators
Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.),
Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), and Richard Blumenthal
The full text of the letter is available below and here.
Chairman Inhofe, Chairman Smith, Ranking Member Reed, and Ranking Member
you continue the process of negotiating a conference agreement on the National
Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020, we respectfully request that
final conference report include the text of the World War I Valor Medals Review
Act. This bipartisan measure has earned 22 cosponsors, ten of whom serve on the
Senate Armed Services Committee, and was included in the House-passed NDAA.
bill would to require the Defense Department to review the service records of
African American, Asian American, Hispanic American, Jewish American, and
Native American war veterans who were awarded the Distinguished Service Cross
or Navy Cross or were recommended for the Medal of Honor for an action that occurred
between April 6, 1917, and November 11, 1918. It would also require a review of
the service record of veterans awarded the Croix de Guerre with Palm by the
Government of France. Many African American World War I veterans served under
French command because the U.S. military would not take them.
bill directs the relevant service secretary to recommend veterans determined to
merit the Medal of Honor as a result of the review to the Secretary of Defense,
who in turn will make recommendations to the President. It also waives
statutory time limits which would preclude such recommendations being made. The
review will be conducted in coordination with the Valor Medals Review Task
Force, a project of the Congressionally-established World War I Centennial
Commission, which will raise private funds to complete the project. The
Department will only be required to review cases recommended by the Task Force.
legislation is supported by the VFW, the American Legion, the Association of
the United States Army, the Congressional Black Caucus Veteran’s Braintrust,
the Air Force Association, the American GI Forum, AMSUS the Society of Federal
Health Professionals, the Army Aviation Association of America, the Association
of the United States Navy, the Commissioned Officers Association of the United
States Public Health Service, the Fleet Reserve Association, the IAVA, the
Jewish War Veterans of the USA, the Marine Corps League, the Military Chaplains
Association of the USA, the Military Order of the Purple Heart, the MOAA, the
Naval Enlisted Reserve Association, the Reserve Officers Association, the
Retired Enlisted Association, the Service Women’s Action Network, the Tragedy
Assistance Program for Survivors, the US Army Warrant Officers Association, the
US Coast Guard Chief Petty Officers Association, the Vietnam Veterans of
America, and the Wounded Warrior Project.
legislation as introduced was included in the House-passed NDAA. On the Senate
side, our staffs have engaged in extensive consultation with the Defense
Department and have agreed to multiple amendments to address potential areas of
the longstanding precedent of Congressionally-authorized valor medals reviews
and the strong bipartisan support for this review and the work of the Valor
Medals Review Task Force, we respectfully request that final conference report
include the text of the World War I Valor Medals Review Act.
you for your consideration.