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Legacy Planning: Replacing Military Awards and Decorations Thumbnail

Legacy Planning: Replacing Military Awards and Decorations


We understand that many of our clients have served or have loved ones who have served in the military. We also understand that military awards and decorations hold great significance and are a way of recognizing the bravery and sacrifice of our servicemen and women. Recently, we received some helpful information from one of our clients who went through the process of requesting replacement medals. We believe that this information could be of use to you or someone you know. 

The process of requesting military awards and decorations is straightforward, but it may take some time, depending on the circumstances of the request. Below are some of the things that you may need to know before you begin the process:

  1. For the Veteran: The military services will work on replacement medal requests for the veteran at no cost. This includes family members with the signed authorization of the veteran.
  2. For the Next-of-Kin: The process (and cost) for replacement medals requests differs among the service branches and is dependent upon who is requesting the medal, particularly if the request involves an archival record. Click here for more details.
  3. The individual conducting the request must have the veteran’s form DD 214. This document contains all the information required by the National Archives to look up the service member’s service record and military awards.
  4. A missing DD 214 could make the process more difficult. The good news is you can request the record by following this link and selecting the button that says, “Make a new request.” 
  5. Another issue that could arise and affect the search for the decorations is the 1973 National Personnel Records Center Fire. The losses to federal military records collection include 80% of the records of U.S. Army personnel discharged November 1, 1912, to January 1, 1960; 75% of the records of U.S. Air Force personnel discharged September 25, 1947, to January 1, 1964, with names alphabetically after Hubbard, James E.; and some U.S. Army Reserve personnel who performed their initial active duty for training in the late 1950s but who received final discharge as late as 1964.
  6. The DD 214 does not always capture every decoration awarded. In such cases, you may need to mail the relevant branch of service directly to appeal the missing decoration as the National Archives can only provide medals based on the information they have. Medals are issued directly from the branch of military the individual served in.

Based on the information we received, it may take anywhere from 6-12 months to receive a notification about your request. If it goes beyond 6 months, we recommend that you contact your local congressman. They can send a letter of inquiry on the requestor's behalf. 

Please note that we are not experts in the field of military awards and decorations. We are simply sharing this information as we believe it can be helpful to our clients. If you have any questions or concerns, please reach out to the National Archives at this link.  

Thank you for your service and sacrifice to our great nation.