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(Editor’s Note: A correction has been issued for this story since its original publication. The story has NOT been changed to reflect this correction.)

ARLINGTON, Va. — The Joint Chiefs of Staff have approved two new medals for servicemembers who participated in hurricane relief efforts for Katrina and Rita.

The announcement of the Humanitarian Service Medal and the Armed Forces Service Medal for Katrina and Rita dated Dec. 16 in an administrative message distributed electronically throughout the U.S. Marine Corps.

The Katrina and Rita hurricane relief efforts are consolidated under a single umbrella for the new awards, according to the message.

According to the criteria for the Humanitarian Service Medal, or HSM, only military personnel who are eligible for the award “directly participated in the immediate humanitarian relief operations in Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas (east of 96 degrees west longitude) from Aug. 29 to Oct. 13,” the message said.

But just being deployed to one of the eligible states during the given time period does not automatically make a servicemember eligible for the medal, however.

Instead, servicemembers must have been physically present and directly contributed to and influenced the action, the message said.

The Armed Forces Service Medal, meanwhile, is earmarked for servicemembers who worked in “direct support” of the hurricane relief operations for either 30 consecutive days, or 60 nonconsecutive days.

Servicemembers may have been deployed or serving anywhere in the United States from Aug. 27, 2005 to February 27, 2006 — minus the areas outlined in the criteria for the HSM, the message said.

A servicemember may qualify for both medals, but the place, time and actions for which he or she is awarded each one cannot overlap.

The design of the new medals was not immediately available.

Service commanders in the rank of colonel or O-6 and higher are supposed to compile the same type of record and send it to their respective awards board.

Servicemembers whose names are not collected, but believe they qualify, can request the medal through the office of the commanding officer under which they served during the operation.


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