You May Know a Deserving Nurse for the Legion of Honor Medal

by John C. Ziegler MA. D. MIN, ASNA Executive Director

Any nurse may recommend an Alabama nurse for The Legion of Honor Medal. Like the Medal of Honor for the military, The Legion of Honor Medal represents the highest measure of courage and valor in dangerous circumstances. The Nurse Legion of Honor criteria applies that concept to those settings and circumstances in our communities where nurses exhibit extraordinary courage in situations beyond the risks normally associated with the profession. Let me explain via these two questions. First, how can we consider such an award in a profession where almost every nurse deserves a medal? And second, how can we find and identify nurses who may be deserving of this, our highest honor?

Who is Eligible for Nomination?

The answer to the first question lies in the phrase "exhibiting courage in the face of danger beyond the risks normally associated with the profession." In other words, there are risks normally associated with being a nurse. These "risks" are higher in certain units and care settings and every nurse knows what kinds of units these are. Even in high-risk settings of care, however, there may be examples of nurses who went over and beyond consideration of their own safety to save lives. In doing so, their acts of courage may be considered as deserving of the Legion of Honor Medal. This could also apply to a leader who placed him or herself at great risk of exposing themselves to danger so that they could ultimately provide better protection for their team and patients.

Acts of Courage

These acts of courage beyond expected risks may be in or outside of normal clinical practice settings. I know the story of a young nurse who was on her way to the beach with friends late at night and they came upon a single-car accident on I-65 south where the passengers had been thrown from the wrecked vehicle. The nurse insisted they stop and help. Two of the three victims were alive. As she applied life-saving treatment an 18-wheeler came over the rise in the highway, braked, jack-knifed, and slid sideways covering the highway. She leaped over a rail at the last minute and plunged 50 feet into the darkness to her death. The two victims she treated survived. Although this event was years ago, in my view, that nurse posthumously deserves The Legion of Honor Medal. So, it could be for acts of extraordinary courage in or out of normal clinical practice settings and it could have been recently or several years ago. For example, Presidents have given the Medal of Honor recently to Vietnam vets.

We Need Your Help

Question two: How can we find and identify nurses who may be deserving of this honor? You. You may know of a nurse who died from COVID, acquired in the course of treating patients. You may know of a nurse who contracted COVID and may have health consequences that prevent him/her from continuing in their career. You may know of a nurse, such as the Alabama nurse who was recently stabbed trying to persuade an unstable patient from leaving the hospital. The circumstances may be subjective and varied but ASNA can not review recommendations unless you tell us about them. We hope to begin issuing awards by September 2021. Please tell us stories about nurse courage and bravery. This medal is high-quality gold and we will not be issuing them lightly. However, whether living or deceased, there are nurses (and their family members) who are deserving of this award. And we need your help to find them.

See the ASNA website for nomination info at alabamanurses.org or contact the ASNA office at 334-262-8321.