Sailors, Marines, Coast Guardsmen and other service members involved in last year’s humanitarian mission in Haiti following a magnitude 7.2 earthquake are now eligible for the Humanitarian Service Medal.
The U.S. military established Joint Task Force-Haiti to provide assistance after the Aug. 14 natural disaster, and its first elements responded within 24 hours. Those who were physically present in the task force’s operational area and were directly involved with the humanitarian mission are eligible for the award, including veterans who are no longer in the service.
For active and reserve personnel, eligibility determination is delegated to the command level of O-6, the civilian equivalent or above. “Awarding authorities must confirm individual participation by verifying assignment via orders, evaluations/fitness reports, or other official documentation which verifies participation in the humanitarian relief support provided to the people of Haiti,” according to a new naval administrative message. “Once verified, commands should submit the appropriate service record documentation via their personnel office.”
Participants in the humanitarian mission who have since separated have a different path forward.
“Navy veterans, Navy personnel honorably discharged or retired before announced approval of these awards and who meet the criterion above may submit a written request for consideration for award of the HSM,” according to the NAVADMIN.
Written requests must indicate the qualifying unit and dates assigned, a copy of the service member’s unredacted DD-214, and any supporting documentation -- such as an evaluation, fitness report, TAD or PCS order -- showing that the member served with a qualifying unit or individually participated in the relief effort. Requests may be mailed to: Navy Personnel Command (PERS 312), 5720 Integrity Drive, Millington, TN 38055.
Navy personnel attached to DoD, joint or other non-Navy commands who meet the eligibility criteria should have their DoD or joint command confirm eligibility and submit the appropriate service record documentation.
The amphibious transport dock Arlington headed to Haiti Aug. 17 with hundreds of sailors and Marines embarked to support disaster relief. The group included Fleet Surgical Team 2, which provided victims of the natural disaster with advanced medical care that included operating room staff, an intensive care unit team, and behavioral health providers.
Marines from Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, were assigned with administering “lifesaving and humanitarian assistance support,” according to the Navy.
Altogether, the U.S. military and Coast Guard mobilized 19 helicopters, six ships, eight transport aircraft and roughly 1,200 personnel as part of Joint Task Force-Haiti to complete 671 missions, save or assist 477 people and transport nearly 600,000 pounds of aid, according to U.S. Southern Command.
“It was a tremendous team effort by multiple commands pulling all of the resources the Navy could muster,” said Capt. Eric Kellum, commanding officer of the Arlington, in a Navy news release in September.
The humanitarian mission launched Aug. 15 and concluded Sept. 3.