United States Army Officers receive ribbons upon entering into the United States Army, but not upon leaving; however, one officer is looking to honor veterans across their lifespan. On April 10th, 1981 the Secretary of the Army established the Army Service Ribbon, which is awarded to members of the United States Army, Army Reserve, and Army National Guard after successfully completing initial-entry training. The Army Service Ribbon symbolizes the start of one’s career with the army. Sergeant First Class Steven Janotta, a twenty-five year member of the U.S. Army and Chief of Operations at the Sabalauski Air Assault School, is advocating for a medal that would honor the end of an officer’s career; an Army Retirement Medal. His proposal received support and criticism from other officers, but he believes in the importance of recognizing over two decades of commitment to the U.S. Army.
Janotta already developed a design for the medal, requirements for receiving the award, and began to solicit the opinions of other officers. His initial design includes U.S. Army colors of black and gold, engraved years of service, and a medallion with the Department of Army emblem. Although Sergeant Janotta believes that the Army Retirement Medal should be second to the Medal of Honor, many critics believe that other awards hold higher honor, such as the Distinguished Service Cross or the Silver Star. The initial proposal also states that the medal would be retroactive and retired soldiers could receive the medal using their DD 214. According to the United States Department of Veteran Affairs, there are currently 21.6 million veterans living in the United States, some of which would be eligible for this award, seeing as it is approved by the U.S. Army. The cost of producing the award for a large number of veterans is one of the barriers to its approval, as well as concerns about placing it second to the Medal of Honor. Some of the initial requirements for the medal include twenty years of service, honorable discharge, and availability for medically retired soldiers.
Despite initial criticism, he has made advancements in forwarding the Army Retirement Medal and rallied support from other officers. Sergeant Janotta is currently in the process of submitting his proposal to the Human Resources Command of the Army after earning initial support from comrades at the air assault school at Fort Bragg and Fort Campbell. According to Janotta, he envisions the medal in the top left rack, in order to symbolically close out the service of each retired officer. His proposal follows in the wake of the controversy surrounding the Distinguished Warfare Medal and the Pentagon’s announcement to review the full range of medals and awards to ensure proper recognition of outstanding service and achievement. Supporters of the medal express that this may be meaningful for those who have dedicated their lives to the U.S. Army and may help to pay tribute to officers who have come before them. He is currently looking to garnish additional support from more soldiers in order to move his vision forward.