At the urging of Fourth District Riverside County Supervisor V. Manuel “Manny” Perez, the Riverside County Board of Supervisors this week unanimously authorized the creation of a Medal of Valor award.
It will be awarded to any resident — civilian, active duty or former military — for acts of heroism or distinction during which the recipient put his or her life in peril.
In Riverside County, which is home to 132,228 veterans, there is likely to be scores of potential recipients.
This is the second piece of veterans legislation inside a month that Perez has introduced — and for which he has received unanimous approval. Perez and Third District Supervisor Chuck Washington co-authored and introduced the Veterans Improvement Program of Riverside County.
“Establishing the Riverside County Medal of Valor will help recognize any private citizen, public employee … veterans, military personnel currently serving our nation in federal or state military service and others deemed deserving,” wrote in his proposal calling for creation of the medal. “The medal shall be awarded to an individual who distinguishes herself or himself by valorous conduct at the risk of life.”
The county established a Distinguished Service Award in 1975 that is generally awarded to retiring department heads, elected officials and judicial officers, according to Perez.
The sheriff’s department has its own service awards, and deputies along with firefighters are eligible for the California Medal of Valor — if their actions rise to that level of sacrifice.
The county Medal of Valor, however, will serve as the board’s preeminent acknowledgment, according to Perez.
The accolade is similar to the certificates of valor established under the Military Veterans Recognition Act of 2013, sponsored by then-Supervisor Jeff Stone, during the watch of then-county Military Affairs Commissioner Tom Freeman, who is now an adviser to Perez.
The certificates are awarded primarily to current and former military personnel who have already received recognition from the U.S. Department of Defense for acts of distinction, though certificates can also be issued to residents who have received any one of several medals from California martial authorities.
As with the certificates, a person will have to be nominated to receive a Medal of Valor. The Department of Human Resources will shepherd processing the nominations and submitting them to the board for consideration.
The cost of production is estimated to be $250 per medal.