The Benefits of Receiving a Medal of Honor

Kristen Volker Kristen Volker / Published Jan 1, 2016, 12:00 PM / Modified Aug 16, 2021, 12:03 PM

Now, I’m sure none of the recipients of the Medal of Honor were performing their act of selfless courage while thinking in their minds, “Geez, I hope I get a Medal of Honor for this and I hope it comes with all sorts of cool benefits.” In addition to that, to many, the simply the meaning of receiving the Medal of Honor is more than enough. Those who receive the Medal of Honor, however, in the minds of many deserve far more than ‘just’ a medal, and are interested in making sure that the recipients of the Medal of Honor are rewarded for their service in more tangible ways, and that the country gives back to the person who gave enough to be awarded the Medal. For those people, here is a list of the special benefits and privileges that a recipient of the Medal of Honor receives for their acts of service.

First, a Medal of Honor recipient receives a Special Medal of Honor pension of $1,259 per month. This pension is above and beyond any military pensions or other monthly payments they may be eligible for. In other words, it’s purely for the Medal of Honor and exists independent of any other pension, retirement, disability, or any other kind of payment that the military pays. This is a very valuable benefit of the Medal of Honor, because it gives back to the recipient in possibly the most ‘tangible’ way possible, in the form of money. The Special pension is paid every month for the rest of the veteran’s life, which makes the final value of the pension quite high; it could be hundreds of thousands of dollars by the end of the veteran’s life.

Next, a Medal of Honor recipient has special entitlements to Space “A” air transportation. Space “A” means ‘space available’, and is a method in which many servicemembers can fly and travel for free as long as there is space available on the flight they are wanting to get on. While this benefit is available to all servicemembers and most retirees, Medal of Honor recipients get special priority when assigning available seats. While compared to the Special pension, this benefit may seem quite minor, but it is also available for life and can enable the veteran to visit family and travel in ways that he or she wouldn’t be able to otherwise.

For those Medal of Honor recipients who are still enlisted at the time of their receipt, they are entitled to receive a supplemental uniform allowance. This supplemental uniform allowance allows the recipient to purchase additional uniforms to display the Medal of Honor at ceremonies, as well as being able to purchase as many uniforms as they need for their service rather than make do with fewer than ideal.

Medal of Honor recipients also has Commissary and exchange (BX) privileges for life, which includes eligible dependents. This can be a major benefit for a Medal of Honor recipient, as they can purchase goods tax-free and at substantially reduced prices at the BX on any base in the US, and eat at the Commissary with their family as well. Depending on the recipient’s situation, this benefit may amount to even more money saved than the Special pension awards.

The benefits of receiving the Medal of Honor extend beyond the recipient themselves; the dependents of Medal of Honor recipients can also get great benefit from it. For example, qualified children of Medal of Honor recipients can gain admission to any of the United States military academies without nomination and without quota requirements. Many consider the military academies in the US to be the finest places to receive education in the world.

In addition to the Special pension, Medal of Honor recipients receive a 10% increase in their retirement pay from whatever they would have expected otherwise. While not as substantial as the Special pension, the increase does make a significant difference in the monthly and annual income a veteran receives from retirement pay.

Also, Medal of Honor recipients receive a special Medal of Honor flag and are allowed to wear the uniform at any time and any place as long as the standard restrictions on uniform use is observed. This is a unique privilege granted to Medal of Honor recipients, which allows them to wear the uniform on request by various groups who wish to have the recipient come and give a speech or make an appearance at an event. The Medal of Honor flag can be posted wherever the recipient sees fit to post it.

And lastly, a Medal of Honor recipient is automatically awarded Interment at Arlington national Cemetery, even if they were not otherwise eligible for it. The recipient does not have to be interred there, but can if they choose.