The Pentagon is creating the Distinguished Service Medal to recognize troops in high-tech career fields who affect the battlefield without actually being in theater. ()
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Nearly 5,000 people have signed an online petition urging the White House to demote the new medal intended to honor drone pilots and other service members who affect combat operations without actually being in a combat zone.
The new Distinguished Warfare Medal, announced on Feb. 13, will rank just below the Distinguished Flying Cross in the military's official "order of precedence." That means it will technically rank higher, and be worn on a uniform above, the Bronze Star with V device, which honors heroic conduct on the battlefield, as well as the Purple Heart, which is awarded to troops who are injured in battle.
"Under no circumstance should a medal that is designed to honor a pilot [who] is controlling a drone via remote control, thousands of miles away from the theater of operation, rank above a medal that involves a soldier being in the line of fire on the ground. This is an injustice to those who have served and risked their lives and this should not be allowed to move forward as planned," reads https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/lower-precedence-new-distinguished-warfare-medal/5KdnkBBN">the petition that is currently active on the White House's official website.
The petition will need a total of 100,000 signatures by March 16 in order for the White House to consider taking further action.
That online initiative is not the only source of criticism for the Pentagon. Large veterans organizations, including the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the Military Order of the Purple Heart, have also criticized the new medal's placement in the official hierarchy and called on the Defense Department to change it. Pentagon officials say the new medal reflects the changing nature of warfare in the 21st Century and the new medal's high-level placement reflects the truly extraordinary actions that will be required to earn one.