Medals and Memories

More and more veterans are wearing medals and military insignia for parades and celebrations of Memorial Day and Veterans Day, as well as proudly displaying them in shadowboxes on walls of their den.

Popularity of military medals among older veterans has been on the rise since the 1980s. Many WWII veterans now in their 70s want proof of their wartime activities to leave to their heirs, as do those veterans who have finally come to grips with the Vietnam war and now want their medals after many years of reflection.

The upsurge in Vietnam requests began in 1980 after President Reagan called that conflict “a noble cause,” and again after the 1982 Vietnam Memorial dedication in Washington, DC. The Army Reserve Personnel Center, Air Force Reserve Branch and Navy Liaison Office, all in St. Louis, busily continue processing the growing number of requests.

Largest of the three, the Army Center receives hundreds of inquiries each week and more than half of them are from WWII veterans. The center processed 57,600 requests last fiscal year, an increase of 25,000 over the previous year. Despite streamlined operations, the backlog continues to build. The situation is similar for the Air Force and Navy.

Those leaving the service today should take advantage of the availability now. They will mean a lot more later on when the memories start to kick-in.