Ongoing Tribute: Benefits Received by Congressional Medal of Honor Recipients

The Congressional Medal of Honor is the highest military designation that can be earned. Through the show of bravery by way of an act or acts of valor, service members are eligible to receive this commendation handed down by the President on behalf of Congress. But in addition to the prestige and sacrifice denoted by earning the Medal, what other benefits are involved?

The Congressional Medal of Honor is an esteemed honor in the United States, and as such recipients are subsequently entitled to several benefits that are protected by law.

As a token of ongoing support, Medal of Honor recipients become eligible to have his or her name placed on the Medal of Honor Roll. This ensures that the Medal recipient is recognized by the Department of Veterans Affairs as being eligible for additional pension benefits. This is a benefit that is over and above the existing pension rate the recipient is eligible and it is protected with cost of living increases.

Medal of Honor recipients are also entitled to additional uniform allowances as needed. They also receive a 10 percent increase in their retirement pay.

Under the Department of Defense regulation DOD Regulation 4515.13-R, those who receive the Congressional Medal of Honor are eligible for certain travel accommodations. This includes specific entitlements for air travel and is also extended to the recipient’s dependents when traveling together.

For dependents or children of recipients, fully qualified students may be eligible for admission to the various service academies in the United States without regard to nomination or quotas.

Recipients of the Congressional Medal of Honor are also eligible for internment at Arlington National Cemetery, if they are not already eligible.

Those who have received the award after 2002 receive a Medal of Honor flag as a commemoration, and all recipients are eligible, depending on their state of residence, for special license plates at little to no cost.

The Medal itself also has several legal protections of its own. In the past, the government dealt with issues of fraud and imposters. Organizations would craft medals that looked similar to the authentic Medal of Honor and distribute them, causing confusion as to who the real recipients were. In addition, imposters would impersonate medal recipients, also causing confusion and diluting the heritage and deserving actions of the real heroes.

Over time, the government has enacted several pieces of legislation that protect both the Medal itself and the honorees. Most recently, the Stolen Valor Act was signed into law by former President Obama in 2013. This designated impersonation or misrepresentation of Medal recipients in order to receive benefits  or privileges was a federally punishable offense.

In total, these benefits are intended to help continue the tradition of respect and recognition that each Congressional Medal of Honor recipient deserves. Through these acts of valor and bravery in the face of extreme danger, the Medal recipient should be respected and treated well. From this came the benefits and provisions, which are protected by law, that serve to both recognize and support the Medal honorees.