My perception is that probably one of the most discriminatory practices in the military is awarding commendations based on rank or position, especially deployment service awards.
The norm or trend is that soldiers E-6 and below receive Army Commendation Medals and worthy E-7s and above, to include officers, receive Meritorious Service Medals or Bronze Star Medals. Commanders, executive officers, platoon leaders, platoon sergeants, staff officers and staff noncommissioned officers are the usual recipients of the MSM or BSM, but not all.
[Lower-ranking] soldiers, sergeants and staff sergeants are the workhorses of any unit and usually are directly responsible for “mission complete.” They are the ones putting their lives on the line with daily patrols and providing countless hours of force protection: Medics saving soldiers’ lives on the battlefield; personnel specialists ensuring soldiers and loved ones back home are administratively being taking care of; supply sergeants ordering and pushing resources to the battlefield; cooks fixing hot chow to feed our hungry soldiers.
These are the soldiers who are performing above and beyond the call of duty to ensure victory on the battlefield. Despite all their hard work and efforts, the perception is that they will never be worthy of receiving an MSM or BSM because of their rank.
It really sickens me to watch [some] leaders receive Bronze Stars. I have researched the regulation pertaining to awards and decorations and even gotten some feedback from retired veterans on a blog I post from time to time. This perception of recommending an award based on rank and position has been around for a while.
Awards should be given based on outstanding performance. Rank and position should not be determining factors for what award one should receive.
Staff Sgt. Steven D. HillCombat Outpost Cashe South, Iraq