Military Department Revamps State Awards Program

  • Published
  • By Capt. Wayde Minami
  • 175th Wing Public Affairs
After more than a year of study and review, the Maryland Military Department has completed a top-to-bottom review and restructuring of the state awards and decorations program.

The resulting state awards regulation, Maryland Military Department Regulation 672-1, standardizes award criteria for all members of Maryland's organized militia, including the Army National Guard, Air National Guard, and Maryland Defense Force. The new regulation took effect Aug. 15.

"This process has taken a year and a half and included a thorough and comprehensive review with input from all the elements in the Military Department," said Command Sgt. Maj. Brian Sann, the state command sergeant major. "The updated regulations consolidate some state awards and standardize awarding criteria in a successful attempt to eliminate confusion and streamline the recognition structure."

According to Command Chief Master Sgt. Glenn D. Hart, the state command chief master sergeant, Maryland Airmen will see noticeable improvements as a result of streamlined procedures contained within the revised regulation.

"Our Airmen will be recognized in a timelier manner because the process will be less cumbersome," Chief Hart said. "The decentralized approach alone will give units all the tools they need to generate the award and track it from the start to finish."

Chief Hart said that guidance in the new regulation will make it easier to write, coordinate and package state awards.

"We needed this change because our Airmen are doing great things and [improving] the process to make awards submission easier and timelier was long overdue," he said.

The original intent was to consolidate the various regulations and instructions of Maryland's three military services. But as discussions evolved, the department went further and looked at ways to improve the program overall.

While most changes will be largely transparent at the unit level, one notable change is the delegation of award authority for some decorations down to the wing commander. Previously, awards were sent to the Joint Force Headquarters for approval. The Maryland Distinguished Service Cross still requires approval by the adjutant general.

"The most significant impact of this change as it relates to the ANG community is the decentralized piece," Lt. Col. Jeffrey A. Teller, Sr., MDANG military personnel management officer, said. "With the release of this new instruction, the wing commander assumes the role in approving and signing citations for 175th Wing members nominated for Maryland Commendation and Maryland Meritorious Service Medals."

According to Colonel Teller, Airmen will still use HQ MDANG Form 2 to request and coordinate awards, but the form has been modified to reflect the new flow of coordination. Other changes include revised criteria for award citations, which should help making writing awards easier.

"Streamlining the flow, easing on content of the award in how it's written and eliminating unnecessary paperwork previously aligned with awards submission will allow unit commanders opportunity to recognize their members sooner," he said.

Chief Hart emphasized the importance of Airman input into the state awards program.

"Every Airman has a voice, and most often some of the best ideas get unveiled in very candid conversations," he said. "Whether it's a suggestion relating to the new state awards instruction or any other issue I always encourage them to utilize their chain of command, the wing command chief or myself."

Both Sergeant Major Sann and Chief Hart emphasized the positive impact the new regulation will have.

"I'm excited about getting this new instruction on the street," Chief Hart said. "I plan to continue monitoring awards across the wing to ensure our Airmen are getting the proper recognition and in a timely manner. They deserve it - and this is a great first step making it easier and less cumbersome."

"Awards are important to morale, and I feel that we've done a good job in ensuring we give appropriate recognition for our service members and the civilians," Sergeant Major Sann said.

In addition to improving the awards process, the department also reviewed state awards as a whole, eliminating awards deemed unnecessary or redundant and creating awards where gaps were found. In addition, a number of state awards were renamed and the award criteria were revised.

The new regulation also addresses long-standing disparities between the different military services. It resolves those differences by either standardizing the criteria or eliminating the award. Most medals and ribbons eliminated under the new regulation may still be worn if a member was previously authorized the award.

In addition, several awards have undergone changes in how they are worn, including changes in the wear of devices on ribbons.

Some of the most significant changes include:

The Maryland Medal for Valor has been replaced with the Maryland Distinguished Service Cross with valor device. Previous recipients may continue to wear or may request conversion to the Maryland Distinguished Service Cross.

The Maryland National Guard Honor Guard Ribbon and the Maryland National Guard Counter Drug Ribbon have been replaced with the Maryland Military Department Special Services Ribbon. The design of the new ribbon is identical to the previous honor guard ribbon. Personnel awarded the previous counter drug ribbon must switch to the new ribbon.

The Maryland Air National Guard First Sergeant Ribbon is no longer authorized for award. Previous recipients may continue to wear.

The Maryland State Active Duty Medal has been renamed the Maryland Military Department Emergency Service Medal and award criteria have been revised. Arabic numerals are now worn on the ribbon to indicate multiple awards instead of oak leaf clusters.

The Maryland National Guard State Service Medal has been renamed the State of Maryland State Service Medal and the criteria for wear of the various botonee devices have been revised.

The Maryland Outstanding Unit Award Ribbon is now considered an individual award. Arabic numerals are worn on the ribbon to indicate multiple awards instead of oak leaf clusters.

The Maryland National Guard Adjutant General's Distinguished Unit Ribbon has been renamed as the Adjutant General's Special Recognition Ribbon and is no longer worn with a frame.

Arabic numerals are now worn on the Maryland Overseas Service Ribbon to indicate multiple awards instead of oak leaf clusters.