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I have decided to set the record straight, in refuting "Medals given like lollipops" (letter, March 26).

The task force with which I am currently serving is not only among the most prestigious in the Army, but leaders take the obligation of ensuring that soldiers are rewarded for their achievements and actions "in support of combat operations" here in Iraq very seriously. Any attempt to paint a picture otherwise is strongly refuted!

We are no longer in the chaotic days of the war, but we are still engaged in combat operations. Does the award of the Bronze Star Medal for anything other than combat action diminish the award, or does it diminish morale, order and discipline when the Army and leaders use nuanced terminology to not exercise the award process as it was intended?

It is of profound importance that the awards process not be so convoluted that soldiers are not rewarded for their acts. It goes to the heart of whom we are and what we do every day in the foxholes! All soldiers put their lives at risk freely in a combat environment. I am sure the writer knows you don’t have to go outside the wire to be engaged by indirect fire, therefore going "outside the wire" is not a criterion for any award.

The Bronze Star was established on Feb. 4, 1944. It is awarded to any person who, while serving in any capacity in or with the Army after Dec. 6, 1941, distinguished himself or herself by heroic or meritorious achievement or service, not involving participation in aerial flight, in connection with military operations against an armed enemy; or while engaged in military operations involving conflict with an opposing armed force in which the United States is not a belligerent party.

Capt. Jermaine A. AthillForward Operating Base Echo, Iraq

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