The military offers medals to member who has served and is recognized for their bravery, heroism, or meritorious service. Past and current military members may be awarded for actions during peacetime or war. They can be earned for action during combat or outside the military. There are more than 50 different medals a service member can earn.

These medals are distributed by the President of the United States, the House, the Senate, and even individual branches of the military. Although all the medals acknowledge the heroic bravery members set, some medals are more prestigious than others.

Here are some of the highest medals that a service member can earn:

Purple Heart

Everyone has heard of the Purple Heart. Eligibility for this award applies to service members who have suffered a wound in enemy action or been killed in combat. This award honors those service members who made the ultimate sacrifice. Did you know President George Washington established the Purple Heart Award in 1782 during the Revolutionary War? President Washington revived the award out of respect for his memory and military achievements.

Medal of Honor

The highest medal that can be bestowed to a service member is the Medal of Honor. Presented by the President to individuals who distinguish themselves “through conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of life above and beyond the call of duty” are eligible for the prestigious medal. Out of the 40 million Americans who served in the Armed Forces since the Civil War, only 3,517 have received the Medal of Honor.

Distinguished Service Cross

The second highest award that a service member can earn is the Distinguished Service Cross. This award is given to those who have gone above and beyond in the call of duty but are not eligible for a Medal of Honor. It is equivalent to the Navy Cross and the Air Force Cross.

Silver Star

The Silver Star is the third-highest award that a service member can earn. It is awarded for bravery in action. There are several ways you could earn this award. Engaged in action against an enemy of the United States. Engaged in military operations involving conflict with an opposing force. Serving with friendly foreign forces engaged in an armed conflict against an opposing armed force in which the United States is not a threatening party.

There are several other medals bestowed to those who have served the Armed Forces in the United States. Do you know anyone who has been awarded with any of these medals?