- Public Safety Officer Medal of Valor
The Public Safety Officer Medal of Valor is the highest
decorationfor bravery performed by public safety officers in the United States, comparable to the military's Medal of Honor.
The Medal of Valor was established on
May 30, 2001. It is awarded and presented by the President of the United Statesin the name of the United States Congressto public safety officers (police officers, firefighters, et cetera) cited by the Attorney General and recommended by the eleven-member Medal of Valor Review Board. The medal can be awarded posthumously.
Before the establishment of the Medal of Valor, there were no Federal awards to specifically acknowledge the bravery performed by public safety officers throughout the United States; police and firefighting departments typically award their members medals at a state or local government level. The establishment of the Medal of Valor fills a huge void in the civilian decorations system of the United States, which was all the more timely given the catastrophe in New York three-and-a-half months later on
September 11, 2001. (In the end, however, the 442 public safety officers killed at World Trade Centerand The Pentagonthat day were awarded the 9/11 Heroes Medal of Valor, a similar but separate award.)
The Public Safety Officer Medal of Valor, which intentionally resembles the military's
Medal of Honor, is a gilt, blue-enamelled, five-pointed, upside-down star (i.e. one arm points downwards), with each arm formed by a letter "V" (for "Valor"), surrounded by a wreath of laurel. The central disc bears the obverse of the Great Seal of the United States. The reverse bears the legend "FOR EXTRAORDINARY VALOR ABOVE AND BEYOND THE CALL OF DUTY", with the name of the recipient engraved at the center. The medal is suspended on a gilt disc bearing a letter "V" surrounded by a wreath of laurels, which is in turn suspended on a neck ribbon, blue with white and red edge stripes (the national colours of the USA) and a gold centre stripe (symbolizing honor).
When the ribbon alone is worn, it carries a miniature silver gilt disc bearing a letter "V" surrounded by a wreath of laurels. There is also a lapel pin, which is the miniature of the medal without suspension.
As the award is presented by the President, the Public Safety Officer Medal of Valor repealed the previously awarded "President's Award For Outstanding Public Safety Service ('President's Award')" and revised the Federal Fire Prevention and Control Act of 1974 to remove the 'President's Award' but keep the
Secretary's Award For Distinguished Public Safety Service('Secretary's Award'), which is an honorary award presented by the Director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency(FEMA) or the Attorney General for the recognition of outstanding and distinguished service by public safety officers*.
*The government defines "public safety officer" as a person (living or deceased) who serve(d) in a public agency, with or without compensation, as a firefighter, law enforcement officer (including a corrections or court officer, or a civil defense officer), or emergency services officer, as determined by the Attorney General.
Department of Public Safety
* [http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/medalofvalor/welcome.html Department of Justice page on Medal of Valor]
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