LAKELAND, Fla. - A retired Army captain who served this country for 23 years received two military awards Wednesday that he should have gotten years ago.
Congressman Dennis Ross awarded Capt. Doug Ackerman the bronze star medal and the combat infantry badge during a meeting at the Florida Department of Citrus in Bartow where Ackerman now works.
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Ackerman should have received the awards at least five years ago when he finished a tour of duty in Afghanistan.
His unit helped train the Afghan national police. The Army awarded him a combat action badge, but not the other two that he earned.
"It's seemingly a small difference when you talk to a civilian, but for those of us who signed up and spent time in the infantry and dedicated our lives to the infantry, it's a pretty big badge of distinction for us," he said.
Somehow an error turned up on Ackerman's DD-214, his official military record.
He tried to get it corrected through the Department of Defense, but there was too much red tape.
"It's just one of those bureaucracy things. It has to get in front of the person who can correct it, and sometimes that takes a little bit longer than others," he said.
He eventually turned to Congressman Dennis Ross. He and his staff worked tirelessly to right a wrong and get the captain the recognition he deserves.
"I'm not of their caliber," Congressman Ross said speaking about soldiers home from combat. "These are true American heroes. I'm doing my job as their conduit with the United States government," he said.
Come to find out, Ackerman and his fellow soldiers did so well overseas, his unit was used as a model throughout Afghanistan.
Finally, after years of frustration, his official military record is accurate.
"It's a good feeling to simply have my record correct, and the fact that a United States Congressman took time out of his day to come down and publicly award it, means a great deal to me," said Ackerman.