Maybe it’s way above my pay grade, but I have a lot of trouble understanding the way the Army issues awards overseas nowadays.

For example, end-of-tour awards for a 12-month combat tour are usually submitted within three to six months of being in country. How can you decide what award they deserve when you really haven’t even gotten to the toughest part of the deployment?

I also don’t understand how someone who has never even met the soldier whose award he is reviewing can decide whether to upgrade or downgrade a soldier’s award when he hasn’t worked with the soldier a day in his life. Let the immediate leaders make that decision.

I started this deployment as a team leader, moved to squad leader, and then acting platoon sergeant for two months while our platoon sergeant was being relieved, and yet the other squad leaders and I received the same awards as our privates and privates first class, all because some lieutenant colonel thinks that’s what we deserve.

Also, medals that used to have a meaning behind them lose their meaning and value when you hand them out like candy. I have friends who have been shot or lost appendages and received the Purple Heart with due reason. How can you put a soldier who bumped his head and claims to have headaches, or a soldier who scratches his face while insurgents are attacking his combat outpost, in the same category as the others?

I would be ashamed to receive a Purple Heart without being shot or losing a limb. There should be stricter rules for these types of awards.

Staff Sgt. Nick Negron

Combat Outpost Thruster, Afghanistan

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