Today, the Secretary of Defense established the Atomic Veterans Commemorative Service Medal to commemorate the service and sacrifice of veterans who were instrumental in the development of our Nation’s atomic and nuclear weapons programs.
Our Nation’s long-standing nuclear deterrence capability resulted from the service and sacrifice of Service members (now known as Atomic Veterans) who participated in the initial testing and development of our Nation’s atomic and nuclear weapons programs.
Notably, the dangerous and important work these veterans performed was often done in secret due to national security requirements.
The Atomic Veterans Commemorative Service Medal recognizes that the service and sacrifice of the Atomic Veterans directly contributed to our Nation’s continued freedom and prosperity during the period following World War II, and was pivotal to our Nation’s defense during the Cold War era.
Veterans eligible for the medal are those who, while performing official military duties during the period of July 1, 1945, to October 1, 1992:
(1) directly participated in the detonation of an atomic weapon or device;
(2) directly participated in the cleanup of radioactive material resulting from any such atmospheric detonation;
(3) directly participated in the cleanup of radioactive material resulting from an accident associated with an atomic weapon; or
(4) were exposed to ionizing radiation resulting from the operational use of atomic weapons during World War II.
The Director of the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) will manage the Department’s Atomic Veterans Commemorative Service Medal program.
DTRA anticipates it will have medals on-hand to award to eligible individuals by the end of the year. In the interim, eligible veterans and the next-of-kin (NOK) of deceased eligible veterans will be able to apply for the medal online in the near-future. Applications will be processed so that when DTRA receives its initial supply of medals they can be provided to eligible veterans or their NOK in a timely manner.
A pictorial depiction of the medallion-only commemorative medal is shown below.