Combat Medical Badge

New Combat Badge Rules

Military medics on the front line of combat face battle just like all soldiers on the front line, they just don’t carry a lot of fire power with them. They’re lugging emergency medical equipment instead. The US military has long presented awards and medals for bravery under fire to combat soldiers but it wasn’t until January 1945 that the combat medic was so honored.

To be eligible for the Combat Medical Badge (CMB), a US Army medic must be actively engaged in supporting infantry troops on the ground during times of battle. The military medic must provide support ‘in the trenches,’ meaning on the battlefield itself, not a nearby military hospital or trauma center. Eligible recipients must rank at the Colonel level or below to be eligible for the badge.

Even though not created until 1945, combat medics who saw active duty from the beginning of the US involvement in World War II (WWII) are eligible. The award’s eligible service dates are retroactive to December 6, 1941.

Over the years, changes have been made to the eligibility requirements for the CMB:

1947 – CMB recipients from WWII became eligible to receive retroactively the Bronze Star, since it was pretty much impossible to earn one without performing the requirements of the other.

1951 – Recipients could now receive more than one CMB, whereas it was a one-time-only declaration before that.

1969 – The award was once again limited to just one CMB per medic for service in Asia, South America, and Somalia even if an eligible medic saw combat duty in more than one arena.

2005 – Special Forces medics no longer qualify for the CMB; they are eligible for the Combat Infantryman Badge, however. This change includes badge eligibility for aviation medics, too.

2008 – In keeping with the new kind of warfare being waged in Iraq and Afghanistan, with no clearly recognized front line, the eligibility requirements of front-line participation of the medic were waived. Improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and similar weaponry now make behind-the-lines trauma centers as risky as the battlefield itself. This eligibility change is retroactive to September 18, 2011.

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