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There's no Cold War Medal for Legal Wear on Uniform

By Staff Sgt. Marcia Triggs, USA
National Guard Bureau

WASHINGTON, Jan. 31, 2002 – The Department of Defense will not be creating a Cold War Service medal, and commemorative medals being sold by private vendors are not authorized for wear on military uniforms, defense officials said.

"After careful consideration, it was decided not to create a medal," said Brad Loo, deputy director of Officer and Enlisted Management Personnel for the Office of the Secretary of Defense.

"Throughout the Cold War years, commanders used a full spectrum of individual, unit and service awards to recognize the achievements and sacrifices of service members," he said. Former Secretary of Defense William Cohen approved a Cold War Recognition Certificate in 1999, and the Army, as executive agent, has been responsible for issuing them to any eligible applicant.

The certificate recognizes all service members and federal employees who faithfully served in the U.S. military during the Cold War era, Loo added. For certificate purposes, that era is the end of World War II, Sept. 2, 1945, to the collapse of the Soviet Union, Dec. 26, 1991.

Last year, someone began sending e-mail to people informing them of the approval of a Cold War medal, as shown in an attached picture, said Arlette King, chief of policy for the Army Award Branch.

"We've tried to correct the issue by putting out messages on our Web site stating that there is not an authorized medal," King said. Several different designs of medals are offered on the Internet -- and even at military clothing sales stores. "This is America. Anyone can purchase the commemorative medal from private vendors, just not wear it on his or her uniform."

It's illegal to wear unauthorized medals on a military uniform, said Master Sgt. Kittie Messman, uniform policy noncommissioned officer for the Office of the Army Deputy Chief of Staff for Personnel.

Messman cited Title 18, Section 704, "Military Medal or Decorations": "Whoever knowingly wears a medal not authorized by Congress ... shall be fined or imprisoned not more than six months or both."

The only official site to apply for a Cold War Recognition Certificate is the Army's at: https://coldwar.army.mil/. Any other sites offering certificates, replicas or other commemoratives for sale are neither official nor endorsed by DoD or the services.

(Staff Sgt. Marcia Triggs is assigned to Army News Service in Washington.)

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