Military decorations are a good way for veterans and their families to remember their service and sacrifice.
This Veterans Day, state officials are hoping to return hundreds of unclaimed medals to those who have earned them.
The State Treasury Department has already returned 85 medals to veterans. But there are hundreds more in their vault, waiting to be rediscovered.
“It’s very meaningful that you do receive something when you’re with the service to your country,” said John B. Getz.
John B. Getz, Jr. is Adjutant Quartermaster for the Pennsylvania Veterans of Foreign Wars. Serving in Vietnam, he earned several medals himself.
“I don’t look at them that often, but I know where I have them,” said Getz. “I know where they’re at, if I ever want to see them.”
But that’s not the case for hundreds of veterans and their families. Right now, more than 850 medals, from Purple Hearts to Bronze Stars sit in a vault at the Treasury Department.
“Our goal is to make sure there are no medals left in this case, within a few years,” said Joe Torsella.
Which is why Pennsylvania Treasurer Joe Torsella launched a website where you can enter a family member’s name and see if any medals are sitting unclaimed.
“We really want to get them back in the hands of the veterans who earned them,” said Torsella. “Or the loved ones who would cherish them.”
Service awards often get reported to the Treasury as unclaimed property through forgotten safety deposit boxes. Some have been there for decades.
“It’s the one item in unclaimed property that never gets disposed of,” said Torsella. “Military medals. Because of the significance they have, about service and sacrifice.”
The hope is the website can help reunite Pennsylvanians with a piece of family history.
“Military families are a lot different from civilian families,” said Getz. “If they have somebody that served, they would definitely cherish memories of that.”
And you can search for unclaimed medals by going to WWW.PATREASURY.GOV/UNCLAIMED-PROPERTY/MEDALS