How Do I Get Replacement Medals?


By Military Connection Staff Writer Joe Silva.

I always have an ear open for questions and concerns that Veterans have. Whether simple, complicated, unique or general, if Veterans want to know something, I’ll try to help them find an answer. Recently a friend of mine, who is a Vietnam Veteran, asked me how he could obtain a replacement Combat Action Ribbon that he earned for his service as a “Fighting” Sea Bee in Vietnam. I figured if Kavin had this question, there are more than likely other Veterans and family members who would like to know how to replace their medals as well.

There are a few ways that Veterans can go about replacing their ribbons and medals. The easiest method is for retirees who retain Base Exchange privileges. They can just go onto the nearest military base and purchase their ribbons and medals and other items at the Exchange or uniform shop. Kavin is not a retiree. Like me, and a million other Veterans, Kavin is not allowed on base without an escort, and cannot purchase anything from the Exchange or uniform shop.

For Veterans like Kavin and me, if we have a friend or family member currently serving in the armed forces, we can ask them to go on base and buy the items for us. There are also many online stores that sell military medals, ribbons and other items. There is still lingering confusion about the legality to buy, sell or trade military medals. The Stolen Valor Act of 2005 made it illegal to buy, sell, trade, receive, and ship military medals and ribbons. However, on June 28, 2012, the Supreme Court ruled that the Stolen Valor Act of 2005 was unconstitutional. There is currently a law in effect, the Stolen Valor Act of 2013, that makes it illegal to fraudulently claim to be a recipient of listed military awards for the purpose of personal gain. But men like Kavin, who earned and were awarded the ribbons and medals, are allowed to purchase them, legally, from private dealers. Typing “military medals” into any search engine should provide you with an assortment of dealers. Medals and ribbons can be bought individually, and also in pre-mounted racks, complete with attached stars and devices. Most of the better sites allow you to view your completed racks. Some sites even provide ribbon racks, in decal form, to put on your vehicle.

Veterans and family members of deceased Veterans can also order medals and ribbons through the branch of service that the Veteran served in. Directions for requesting and petitioning for replacement medals, and addresses for reaching each military branch can be found on the National Archives website. The branches usually don’t charge to replace medals in this manner. However, petitioning for replacement medals can take a very long time.

My recommendation to Kavin was to go on line and order his ribbon. I hope that I cleared this up for Kavin and any other Veterans who weren’t sure about their options and the laws.