SSC-Natick Press Release
U.S. Army Soldier Systems Center-Natick
Public Affairs Office
Natick, MA 01760-5012
Contact: Chief, Public Affairs Office
Date: September 9, 2003
Awarding veterans easier
PHILADELPHIA -- Army veterans and their families will now have an easier time tracking and receiving medals and decorations thanks to an automated system used by the Clothing and Heraldry Product Support Integration Directorate (PSID) here.
The new Web-based system eliminates extensive paperwork, reduces processing time and has new capabilities such as allowing each veteran the opportunity to find out the status of his or her request or make address changes online. These types of inquiries that used to be handled telephonically or by letter now can be entered online at http://veteranmedals.army.mil. Award criteria and background for the different service medals can also be found on the Web site.
Requests for medals are initiated through the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) in St. Louis. Eligible veterans or the next-of-kin of a deceased veteran can request medals from NPRC at http://vetrecs.archives.gov.
Once NPRC finalizes their research, a notification letter is sent to the veterans and their next of kin listing the veteran's authorized medals, decorations and awards. The request is also then routed through the Web-enabled database directly to PSID's Medals Team in Philadelphia for processing and shipment of the awards.
The team engraves decorations with the veteran's name, a process that is now also automated, assembles attachments (such as bronze/silver stars or oak leaf clusters) and mails the set to the veteran or next-of-kin.
According to Vickie Ramoni, team leader of the Heraldry Section of PSID, 4,000 to 5,000 award requests per month are prepared and this new system will be invaluable since it will increase production and lower costs.
"It will reduce backlog and assist in order processing time by predicting incoming workload," she said. "It also allows us to the capability to expedite a routine request when a veteran is ill or when an award ceremony is scheduled just by clicking a button. We did not have this capability prior to the automation."
A ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate the new system took place on Aug. 19. During the ceremony, Greg Schech, the senior team leader of the Clothing and Heraldry PSID spoke about the history of the organization and the many changes it has faced since its inception in 1957. He said that the motto of the team is "We Deliver Pride" and that having the new automated system lets them honor those who serve and also helps the team keep up with the intense pace of transformation.
Maj. Gen. John C. Doesburg, commander, U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command (Provisional), also spoke during the ceremony. He thanked those who participated in the medals process, and said that, "everyday, some veteran is being recognized or honored somewhere, and you have reached out and touched that veteran or that family."
During a previous visit, Doesburg said he had the chance to visit the medals section where the work is done. What touched him the most was that the folks who were working on the medals really cared. They didn't know whom they were making the medals for but they understood the importance of what was being done.
At the ceremony, Doesburg closed his comments with a personal story. He mentioned how after an old veteran friend of his father's passed away, no one was there to take care of the arrangements to make sure everything was done correctly, including making sure he got the correct medals recognizing his service to his country.
Doesburg said he contacted the Clothing and Heraldry PSID and they made sure the correct medals were delivered in time. Three months later he got a package, but he said it really should have gone to the team. In the package were 53 letters from Jefferson City, Mo., the veteran's hometown, thanking him for making sure the deceased was recognized for his military service.
Robert Henry Jr., medals foreman, said that he is proud of the team and its accomplishments in the past year as they made the transformation to the paperless environment. He stated that every request they process is a way of honoring those who have served our country and the Medals Team takes great pride in being able to provide this service to veterans and their families.