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Civilian Service Recognition Act stalled

A House of Representatives bill allowing for payment of "expenses incident to the presentation of a (U.S.) flag" for civilians who are killed while working for the federal government was pulled from the legislative agenda Wednesday night.

The Civilian Service Recognition Act of 2011 (H.R. 2061) was introduced May 31 by Rep. Bill Hanna of New York. Noting that 3,000 federal employees have died since 1993, Hanna said, "Like members of the armed services, civilian federal employees are often in harm's way. Ours is a grateful nation, one that values the sacrifices made in honor of this country. A life can never be repaid, but it can be honored."

Legion staff are working with House officials to get the bill amended.

"This bill leaves far too much to be determined by a few individuals," said Tim Tetz, Legislative director of The American Legion. "It allows agency heads to determine who may be eligible upon their deaths. It allows them to determine ‘next of kin.' It doesn't clearly identify associated costs, and it leaves far too much to be decided without any public feedback."




  1. I'm considering whether I wish to continue membership in this organization as a result of the AL's "position" regarding presentation of a flag to Federal Employees who die while on official duty for this country. My reaction is, "are you kidding me!!" Does the AL leadership actually "talk" to their members before presuming to speak for the rest of us? You obviously don't speak for me or many other members on this topic. I retired from uniformed Naval service after 25 years and retired from the federal (civilian) workforce after 18 additional years. Seven of my colleagues were lost (killed) by hostile action in the Pentagon on 9/11. 5 of those 7 were civilians. They died just as bravely as any uniformed member did. I've also lost friends in Iraq and Afghanistan to hostile action who were "just" federal civilian employees. They warrant every bit as much national recognition (more so) than a DUI sailor killed in a car accident while on "liberty".
  2. As a veteran of both the Army and the Department of State, I view our national security - diplomatic teams as an integrated patriotic group of Americans. I've worn the green and I've worn the pinstripes, and sometimes was in more danger in pinstripes. Civilian employees are not killed by accident; they are deliberatly targetted by our enemies who have long-since dispensed with any distinction between 'combatants' and 'civilians.' So I say, grant the civilians the small symbol of a flag, stop assuming that they weren't brave or committed enough to serve in the military, don't build your group up by demeaning others, and when you hear that an American has been killed while executing US government policy, do not send to know for whom the bell tolls, .......
  3. Lets provide two examples of "non-military" personnel who gave their lives in defense of this country: U.S. Merchant Marine - WWII - 1,554 ships sunk - over 7,000 Merchant Marine Sailors KIA. Women's Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) - WWII - 38 casualties (training accidents). Merchant Marine Sailors and the WASP are both considered "civilian" service. The WASPs (still civilians) were given "Veteran" status in 1977. Merchant Marine Sailors (still civilians) were given Veterans status in 1988. It took the WASPs and Merchant Marine Sailors many years of lobbying to get recognized as Veterans. Other groups eligible can be viewed at the VA's website. The point is, there is precedent for civilians being accorded recognition as Veterans. Why not receive the flag as well, if dying in the service of this country. It's really a version of bigotry, saying that only military personnel are worthy of the U.S. flag.
  4. Give them respect and the Next of Kin their flag. However, it appears many posting here seem to have missed the point of Legion opposition. It isn't the award that is being opposed but rather the details of who will be considered eligible for the award, what definition is used to determine NOK, who makes that determination and how these changes are to be financed. The way to solidly rectify these questions and avoid the award becoming a political rather than patriotic service award is to amend the proposal prior to it becoming law. I approve of a civilian service award to those that gave their lives in service to this country but oppose letting political party hacks decide who deserves the award and who doesn't. Something this important must be done the right way from the beginning and not left to amendment at a later date. Robert Ireland (PUFL) Post 174 Willits, CA
  5. I, too appreciate Mr. McLeod's 20 year service. HOWEVER: But your "2 cents" is so short sighted. Think before you post such comments. Remember this....those civilians you are saying did not "earn it" were the people who took care of many of the behind the scene tasks while you were serving. Some of those who did not "earn it" gave thier lives in the service of this country. You have my sympathies for your mean spirit. You need, sir, with all due respect to your service (and I served 20 also) to come work with the civilian force and "earn it" also.
  6. Hello Mr. Fong. What say you about all those civilians who died at the Pentagon? Were they not protecting thier country against all enemies, foreign and domestic when they were brutally killed? What about President Obama? Supreme Court Justices? Members of Congress? Applying your logic, they should not be honored with a flag if they never did military service? Well, Sir, as a retired member of the US Military, I say shame on you. Our military could not do the amazing job it does without the support of our civilian employees. They take the exact same oath as military members. No where in that oath does it say "I will willingly die in the service of my country." Yet, it is understood. It matters not if you wear a uniform or perform other duties. The risk is still there. Get smart, Mr. Fong. Your comments are an embarassment to all who serve and have served this great land.
  7. "I, [name], do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God. 5 U.S.C. §3331" This to me states explicitly that Federal Civil Servants may be expected to be placed in harms way. There are quite a number of civilian employees of the Departments of Defense, Army, Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, Homeland Security, State, etc., that take this oath, which is a pretty significant oath if you ask me. And if state and local government officials and employees die in the defense of this nation, they should get the flag as well. I'm pretty sure that they all take an oath as well. The American Legion is wrong on this one.
  8. As a recent retiree from the US Army Reserve, with 31 years of service and multiple deployments (OIF & OEF) and am a Army Civilian Corps member for over 20 years, I feel a need to weigh in on this. Yes, military members have made unique sacrifices and deserve special recognition upon their deaths. We have VA Cemeteries and military funeral honors for them. But, civilian employees of the US Government also make sacrifices. Many work for the US Government out of a sense of duty to their Nation and (for many)in support of our Uniformed Service members. Providing a US Flag to their next of kin upon their death while in active Federal service is the right thing to do. A Federal civilian Police Officer who intervenes to stop a terrorist attack (as they did at Fort Hood) is deserving of the same recognition as a Uniformed Service member in a combat zone. We ALL serve the citizens and objectives of the United States. They need to be specific on the entitlement and provide a flag to the NOK.
  9. Col Gest, thank you for starting the effort. It is so important, and high time, to give some recognition to those who serve in a significant civilian capacity (as did many of our founding fathers) and who lose their lives in the line of duty to their nation. (I state this from the perspective of someone whose dad served in the Navy) I agree that this is a petty stance for the American Legion to take - people earn flags, and our appreciation and gratitude for many roles in keeping our nation safe and running. We appreciate your collective service, it would be the American thing to do for you and your membership to appreciate the service of others in the many ways they serve our nation.
  10. The American Legion's stance on this bill is disappointing, as it is standing opposed to recognizing the sacrifices that civilian federal employees make in service to the U.S. The honor authorized in the bill, simply providing a flag, hardly replicates the full honors bestowed upon military members receive at death. I do not see how this bill in any way devalues those military honors or lessens the nation's grateful recognition of the sacrifices men and women in uniform have made to our country. The Legion's opposition to this bill strikes me as petty, frankly, and leaves me the impression that the Legion doesn't regard the sacrifices of non-military persons as at all significant. I'm sorry to say it leaves me with a slightly diminished respect for the Legion's leadership.
  11. I am one of the two veterans who started this effort. I wish to say that this legislation in no denigrates the service of those who wear and who wore the uniform. All it does is recognize, in a very small way, that the federal civilian is often placed in harm's way and if she suffers the ultimate sacrifice, the least a grateful nation could do is provide a burial flag to the family. A flag and only a flag! Post by: Robert Gest III, Colonel, USAF (Retired)
  12. Gentlemen- After spending over 20 years of my life in the US Army, I feel that only retirees have the right to have a flag draped over their caskets, not govt. civilians. You want a flag, then join one of the serives and earn it.... Thats my 2 cents.
  13. I sincerely appreciate your Army service, but your statement above could be one of the most insensitive and, frankly, moronic comments ever! Did CIA officer Johnny Spann not "earn" some simple recognition by sacrificing his life in Afghanistan?! How about Immigration & Customs special agent Jaime Zapata who was killed by drug lords in Mexico, does he deserve the gratitude of a grateful nation?! Deputy U.S. Marshal Derek Hotsinpiller, killed while attempting to arrest a cocaine dealer in West Virginia; any recognition deserved for his sacrifice?! No, we should preserve this right solely for the military family; that way we can ensure there will be enough flags left to provide for the retired tuba player in one of the many Army bands when he/she passes. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! The only thing more disappointing than your comment is the short-sighted & mean-spirited position of the Legion itself; it should be ashamed!!!
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