It can take months and years for the Army to process high-level valor awards like the Silver Star and Medal of Honor, so the service has released a new set of guidelines to help get medals to those who earned them in a more timely manner.

To start, after a unit has submitted paperwork to the next-highest command, each echelon will have 10 calendar days to endorse the award. Major battlefield commands will also have to submit a monthly round-up of all awards given out during deployments to Army Human Resources Command, according to MILPER message 17-272, released Aug. 30.

The new regulations are the result of a push by the defense undersecretary for personnel and readiness and the Army secretary, who earlier this year directed that the Army work on streamlining the awards process.

The new requirements:

1. All valor award nominations must be endorsed within 10 days of receipt at each echelon in the chain of command. This does not apply to initiating units, who are encouraged to take the appropriate time to gather witness statements and draw up paperwork.

2. Eyewitness statements must be first-hand accounts from soldiers who observed the action in question.

3. For all valor awards, commanders must forward supporting documentation to both HRC and the Awards and Decorations Branch.

4. Commands with wartime approval authority — U.S. Central Command, Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve, Joint Special Operations Command, Special Operations Command-Central and U.S. Forces-Afghanistan — must submit a monthly round-up of awards. The reports must be submitted to HRC and the Awards and Decoration Branch by the 15th of the month following the month covered, starting with July 2017.

5. For the Medal of Honor and Distinguished Service Cross, the two highest awards for valor, the first colonel in the endorsing chain must forward a copy of the recommendation to HRC and the awards branch.

6. Commanders should award interim Silver Stars to Distinguished Service Cross and Medal of Honor nominees.

The new guidelines don’t apply to awards that are submitted after statutory time limits — for example, Medal of Honor nominations that come in more than five years after the action. 

Meghann Myers is the Pentagon bureau chief at Military Times. She covers operations, policy, personnel, leadership and other issues affecting service members.

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