The troops President Obama has deployed to Iraq are not eligible for certain medals because the U.S. has not officially designated their efforts a military campaign.
The more than 1,600 troops who are serving as “advisers” cannot receive the Iraq Campaign Medal, which is reserved for troops deployed between March 19, 2003, and Dec. 31, 2011, defense officials say.
Nor are they eligible for the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary or Service medals, which are only awarded to troops supporting Operation Enduring Freedom, originating with the 2001 Afghanistan War.
Veterans groups are upset over the exclusions, arguing the battle against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS or ISIL) should be treated as an extension of previous military campaigns.
“If that’s not a terrorist organization, and this is not a war against ISIL, then I don’t know what this is,” said John Bircher, spokesman for the Military Order of the Purple Heart, who is also a Vietnam War veteran and Purple Heart recipient.