The "West Virginia distinguished service medal" may be awarded:
(a) To former or present governors of the state of West Virginia as commanders in chief of the West Virginia national guard;
(b) To such officers and enlisted men in the West Virginia national guard as may have, or may hereafter render conspicuous or distinguished service in the line of duty, or who have displayed, or may hereafter display, conspicuous courage and gallantry while on duty with the West Virginia national guard;
(c) To individuals serving in the West Virginia national guard who are holders of congressional medals of honor, United States distinguished service medals, United States distinguished service cross or equivalent awards of the United States navy;
(d) To West Virginians who served in the armed forces of the United States in time of war and who have rendered conspicuous or distinguished service in the line of duty;
(e) To not more than two civilians in any one year who shall have rendered, in the judgment of the military board of the state of West Virginia, conspicuous or distinguished service to the West Virginia national guard, the state of West Virginia or the United States of America.
The West Virginia distinguished service medal may be awarded posthumously to the next of kin of any officer, enlisted man or civilian entitled thereto under the foregoing subdivisions.
The "West Virginia legion of merit" may be awarded for exceptional meritorious service, achievement or bravery:
(a) To present or former officers and enlisted members of the West Virginia national guard;
(b) To present or former members of active military components, national guard members of other states and other reserve components;
(c) To civilians who have rendered conspicuous or distinguished service to the West Virginia national guard, the state of West Virginia or the United States of America.
The military awards board hereinafter established shall recommend to the governor the approval or disapproval of all nominations for the award of the distinguished service medal or the legion of merit. If the justification contained in a nomination for the distinguished service medal does not meet the criteria established for such award, the board may recommend in lieu thereof the approval of the legion of merit.
The adjutant general is authorized to establish other West Virginia awards and decorations to recognize officers and members of the West Virginia national guard or other individuals as may be deemed appropriate.
Such awards and decorations will be established by the issuance of appropriate orders by the adjutant general and furnished at the expense of the state. The adjutant general shall establish procedures for the granting of such awards or decorations.
The order of precedence for wearing West Virginia medals is as follows:
(1) West Virginia distinguished service medal;
(2) West Virginia legion of merit;
(3) Other West Virginia awards and decorations in the order of precedence as established by the adjutant general.
The governor, as commander in chief of the West Virginia national guard, shall appoint a permanent board of awards to be known as the military awards board of the state of West Virginia to consist of three members, at least two of whom shall be members of the West Virginia national guard on active duty. The term of office for these members shall be four years or until their successors are appointed.
The members of this board shall receive no salary or other compensation for their services, but each member shall be allowed and paid for actual expenses in traveling and other personal expense incurred in the performance of their duty. The board shall select a secretary who shall make and keep a record of its proceedings, which record is to be lodged in the adjutant general's office and is to be preserved therein as a part of the permanent military records of the state of West Virginia.
The military awards board of the state of West Virginia shall design, or have designed, the distinguished service medal, the legion of merit, and other West Virginia awards and decorations and shall submit the designs and bids thereon, together with its recommendations thereon, to the governor for final approval.
In the event any person shall render service or perform acts entitling such person to the award of a West Virginia decoration, and the award of such decoration has previously been made, the person shall, for each subsequent award be entitled to wear a bronze oak leaf cluster. A silver oak leaf cluster shall be used in lieu of five bronze oak leaf clusters.
The adjutant general shall annually submit to the Legislature a request for an appropriation sufficient to cover the cost of all West Virginia decorations established in accordance with this article.
Note: WV Code updated with legislation passed through the 2012 1st Special Session