There is no such thing as a "Congressional Medal of Honor".

There is, however, a Medal of Honor. It is the highest award possible for military members, and is awarded by Congress after receiving nominations by the respective military chain of command.

In practice, the vast majority of nominations are downgraded to a "Service Cross", or silver or bronze star, before ever reaching the appropriate Congressional committee. This has caused some controversy in recent years, with most believing that the award has been inappropriately politicized, and with many in the pre-Congressional process downgrading nominations that do not "one-up" previous awards.

The stated requirements to be eligible for the Medal of Honor include "conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his or her life above and beyond the call of duty while engaged in an action against an enemy of the United States." Most are awarded posthumously, and there are few still-living recipients.

The Medal of Honor entitles the recipient to certain privileges, such as: a 10% increase in any pension; a lifetime monthly stipend above and beyond any pension or pay; special transportation privileges using DoD aircraft; and admission to any US Military Academy without regard to nomination or quota requirements for any children.

This list is not all-inclusive, and may have additions (but no subtractions) on a per-service basis.

Perhaps the most famous privilege of any Medal of Honor recipient, that of being entitled to a salute from any military member regardless of rank, is not an actual legal requirement, but is both highly encouraged and rightly deserved.

The Congressional Medal of Honor is the highest award for an individual serving in the United States Armed Services. This award is awarded for valor in action against an enemy force. Over 3,400 medals have been awarded to date.

The medal itself is the only United States Military Award that is worn around the neck rather than pinned to the uniform. They first were made by the Philadelphia Mint at the request of Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles. It is illegal to sell, wear, or manufacture copies of the Medal of Honor.

There are three types of Congressional Medals of Honor, each with a slightly different look and history.

James W. Grimes introduced a bill for the Medal of Honor on December 9, 1861. The awards “which shall be bestowed upon such petty officers, seamen, landsmen and marines as shall distinguish themselves by their gallantry in action and other seamanlike qualities during the present war (Civil War)." This was the start of the Navy Medal of Honor.


Massachusetts Senator Henry Wilson on February 17, 1862 introduced a bill for medal of honor of the army.

Air Force:

The Air Force branch of the Armed Services didn’t get authorized a medal of honor until 1956. The Air Force Medal of Honor is 50% larger than the others.

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