combat action badge

The United States military created the Combat Action Badge in 2005 to recognize soldiers who have either personally engaged or were engaged by enemy forces during combat. The Badge was approved for future combat veterans and retroactively issued to qualifying combat veterans who served from 2001 until 2005. Combat veterans of conflicts before 2001, however, are not eligible to retroactively receive the Badge.

Representative Richard Nugent (R-FL) has championed several attempts to retroactively award Combat Action Badges to any qualifying veteran since 1941 when the United States entered WWII. This would include veterans who saw combat in WWII, Korea, Vietnam and Desert Storm. Rep. Nugent believes that the military should award the Badge to qualifying combat veterans even though the Badge didn’t exist until 2005.

The 2015 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) had a measure to make the Combat Action Badge retroactive for veterans who served from 1941 until 2001. The Senate removed this clause before passing the NDAA. 

After the amendment failed to be included in the final version of the NDAA, it was later attached as a Joint Explanatory Statement. This statement requires the Department of Defense (DoD) to consider retroactively awarding Combat Action Badges.

The DoD has not yet stated whether or not they will pursue this measure.