Get Task & Purpose in your inbox
A group of vets are raising money to pay for a medal the Iraqi government awarded them, but never delivered
In June 2011 Iraq's defense minister announced that U.S. troops who had deployed to the country would receive the Iraq Commitment Medal in recognition of their service. Eight years later, millions of qualified veterans have yet to receive it.
The reason: The Iraqi government has so far failed to provide the medals to the Department of Defense for approval and distribution.
A small group of veterans hopes to change that.
On Aug. 11, Ed Mahoney, an Iraq war veteran who served in Fallujah and Al Assad, Iraq, between 2008 and 2009, launched a Kickstarter campaign aimed at raising funds to make a small order of awards, with the hope the Pentagon will consider approving the award if service members and vets are willing to pay to have it made.
Though the medal remains unapproved for wear by the Pentagon, if it were ever given the go ahead, the requirements are that: "one must have served for 30 consecutive days or for 60 non-consecutive days within the borders of Iraq, within its territorial waters, or within its airspace during the period of March 19, 2003 to December 31, 2011," according to the Kickstarter page.
Additionally, "pilots and aircrew members who flew missions within Iraqi airspace will be credited for one day for each day of air operations," and troops who engaged in combat, or were wounded or injured in the line of duty "to a degree which required medical evacuation from Iraq qualify without regard to the number of days of service," it continues.
Mahoney, who's still in the Marines and serves as a communications officer, first became aware of the medal a few years ago and decided to look into it.
"What I discovered was DoD had it for action but they weren't going to do anything unless Iraq supplied the initial batch, so I was like, okay, cool whatever," he told Task & Purpose. "I didn't think too much of it, but then I started doing some digging around, found a bunch of websites, and saw people talking about it."
"Out of curiosity, I made a few calls to vendors, and they pretty much told me the same story, that Iraq never provided the money for the initial batch," Mahoney continued.
"The Iraqis actually had it a bit different, they had the stripes going horizontal, vice vertical, and that's not in accordance with DoD or mil/spec standards," he said, referring to a sample of the original design, featured below:
A sample of the Iraq Commitment Medal design.Iraq Commitment Medal/Facebook
So he made a slight modification to the medal so it would be within U.S. military uniform standards, which is what's shown on the Kickstarter page:
Ed Mahoney's redesign of the Iraq Commitment Medal.Ed Mahoney/Kickstarter
For Mahoney, this is less a great injustice to be corrected, and more of a pet project: The Government of Iraq awarded military veterans a medal, but never followed through on delivery, so why not see if he could drum up the funds to pay for it through crowd-sourcing?
To be successful, the campaign needs to raise $62,500 before it expires on Oct. 11, in order to pay for 2,500 medals — created by vendors approved by the Department of Defense and the Institute of Heraldry, Mahoney told Task & Purpose.
At least, to start. Roughly 1.2 million veterans of the Iraq War qualify for the award, according to a Department of Defense statement provided to Task & Purpose.
It's a tall order, but Mahoney remains optimistic.
"Either we gin up the interest, in which case we'll solve two things: It'll raise awareness, even if the thing doesn't succeed, and if it succeeds, great," he said. "So the money that we're trying to raise would pay for whoever backs it, and it'd pay for the machines to be tooled ... and it'll allow for 10,000 medals a week to be produced."
The next step would be to "go back to DoD and say, 'look, we know you wanted Iraq to supply the medals. It ain't ever happening, how many would you be willing to accept to authorize the award?'" Mahoney said. "And kind of play it back and forth like that."
However, even if the campaign does raise the necessary funds for that initial batch, it'll be a tough sell for the Pentagon, largely because that's not how the Department of Defense handles or approves awards.
"Traditionally when a foreign government authorizes a medal, that government provides the medal to eligible members as the medal is a foreign decoration, not a Department of Defense decoration," Jessica Maxwell, a Pentagon spokeswoman, told Task & Purpose. "At this time, the Department of Defense has not received any [Government of Iraq Commitment Medals] from the Government of Iraq to approve or distribute."
"The Department will establish plans and procedures for approving and distributing the medals to the estimated 1.2 million qualifying members upon receipt of the GICMs from the Government of Iraq," she continued.
As for the Kickstarter campaign, Maxwell went on to add that "Mr. Mahoney's funding effort is wholly independent of the Department of Defense. It should be noted that the suspension ribbon of the medal being promoted by Mr. Mahoney is quite different than the one approved by the Government of Iraq."
The two medals, Mahoney's version, and the original sample version of the Iraq Commitment Medal side by side.Iraq Commitment Medal/Facebook
But Mahoney isn't the only veteran to have expressed interest in seeing the medal awarded to those who served in Iraq.
"I first became aware of the Iraq Commitment Medal when it was originally created in 2011, thought it was a nice gesture by the Iraqis," said Gordon Caldecott, one of the administrators for the Iraq Commitment Medal Facebook group, and a former medic who deployed to Iraq with the British Army in 2005.
"But as time went by and nothing further appeared to be happening with it," Caldecott said he decided to create the Facebook group in 2014, and has continued pushing for the award since.
"The main problem at this juncture appears to be that of authorization. The U.S. DOD won't authorize it until the Iraqis supply it," Caldecott told Task & Purpose via email. "The Iraqis can't supply it so we're currently at an impasse."
"Interestingly I believe that U.S. troops have to buy their own medals anyway, so it is hoped that should production begin that this will hopefully address the problem, and authorization will be forthcoming."
HALIFAX, Nova Scotia (Reuters) - U.S. Navy Secretary Richard Spencer said on Friday a Navy SEAL convicted of battlefield misconduct should face a board of peers weighing whether to oust him from the elite force, despite President Donald Trump's assertion that he not be expelled.
"I believe the process matters for good order and discipline," Spencer told Reuters, weighing in on a confrontation between Trump and senior Navy officials over the outcome of a high-profile war-crimes case.
A military jury in July convicted Special Operations Chief Edward Gallagher of illegally posing for pictures with the corpse of an Islamic State fighter but acquitted him of murder in the detainee's death. Gallagher also was cleared of charges that he deliberately fired on unarmed civilians.
The Air Force has identified the two airmen killed in a training accident on Thursday as Lt. Col John "Matt" Kincade, 47, and 2nd Lt. Travis B. Wilkie, 23.
Kincade and Wilkie were killed at Vance Air Force Base in Oklahoma during a training mission involving T-38C Talon aircraft, the Air Force said. Two T-38s were training in formation when the incident occurred during the landing phase, according to a press release.
A Marine lance corporal has become the first female Marine in history to graduate the Basic Reconnaissance Course, earning the military occupational specialty of 0321 Reconnaissance Marine.
Lance Cpl. Alexa Barth completed the 12-week course on Nov. 7, said Maj. Kendra Motz, a Marine spokeswoman. Barth previously graduated from the Corps' Infantry Training Battalion-East, earning the MOS of 0311 Rifleman.
STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- By day, Arik Rangel works as a U.S. Coast Guard operations specialist third class, but when the spotlight hits, his stage name and personalty -- Arik Cavalli -- takes over.
Rangel, born in San Marcos, Tx., was raised by a single mother with three sisters. He didn't want his mother to have to support him after high school, so he honored her and his country by joining the U.S. Air Force in 2012.
He worked as a senior airman in the Knowledge Operations Management field and was in the Air Force reserves for three years. In 2015, he joined the U.S. Coast Guard as an operations specialist and is currently stationed at Fort Wadsworth.
A new documentary tells the heroic story of the first Marine to earn the Medal of Honor since Vietnam
More than 15 years ago, Marine Cpl. Jason Dunham gave his life to save his fellow Marines on the streets of Husaybah, Iraq when he leaped upon a grenade. In 2007, he became the first Marine since the Vietnam War to be awarded the Medal of Honor.
In the years since his death, his story of courage and sacrifice has been told and re-told. His Medal of Honor citation is read to Marine recruits during the Crucible at boot camp. And his name adorns the USS Jason Dunham, where his dress blue uniform rests in a clear display case on the quarterdeck, a solemn shrine to a young man who gave his life for his brothers in arms.
Now, Marines who served with Dunham are sharing his story in their own words, and a small group of military veterans and film makers are helping them do it as part of The Gift, a crowd-funded documentary film chronicling his life, and legacy.