Secretary of State Kim Wyman calls for nominations for Washington’s Medals of Merit and Valor

OLYMPIA — The Office of the Secretary of State is now accepting nominations for Washington’s Medals of Merit and Valor.

The Medals of Merit and Valor are two of three statutory civilian decorations* issued by the state and are considered the highest civilian honors awarded to the people of Washington. The Medal of Merit recognizes exceptional individuals who perform outstanding services for Washington and its residents. The Medal of Valor is awarded to anyone who has saved, or attempted to save, the life of another at the risk of their own safety.

Recipients are chosen by a state medal committee that includes the governor, president of the state Senate (lieutenant governor), speaker of the state House of Representatives, and chief justice of the state Supreme Court. The secretary of state serves as a nonvoting ex-officio member and secretary of the committee. Recipients are awarded their medals during a special joint session of the state Legislature.

Nomination forms for the Medal of Merit and Medal of Valor can be found online. Forms and supporting documents may be sent to or Medal of Merit/Valor Committee, c/o Secretary of State, P.O. Box 40220, Olympia, Wash., 98504-0220. The deadline for nominations is Oct. 15, 2021.

“Washingtonians accomplish amazing things, serve and better their communities in many ways, and commit selfless acts of bravery every day,” said Secretary Wyman. “I am grateful for the honor of serving on the state medal committee and celebrating the incredible people who inspire all of us to live better lives.”

Previous Medal of Merit recipients include Leland H. Hartwell, 2001 recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine; Emma Smith DeVoe**, an early-20th century suffragist often called “the Mother of Women’s Suffrage”; and Billy Frank, Jr., Native American environmental leader and treaty-rights activist, and former vice chairman of the Nisqually Indian Tribe.

Timothy Bourasaw and Rick Bowers were the most recent recipients of the Medal of Valor award. In 2006, they came upon two people trapped in a vehicle engulfed in flames on Interstate 5. They extricated the passengers, one of whom was on fire, and cared for them until emergency services arrived.

The Medal of Merit may be awarded posthumously, but cannot be awarded to an elected official while in office or any candidate for an elected office. Law enforcement officers, firefighters, and other professional emergency responders are not eligible for the Medal of Valor.

Washington’s Office of the Secretary of State oversees a number of areas within state government, including managing state elections, registering corporations and charities, and governing the use of the state flag and state seal. The office also manages the State Archives and the State Library, documents extraordinary stories in Washington’s history through Legacy Washington, oversees the Combined Fund Drive for charitable giving by state employees, and administers the state’s Address Confidentiality Program to help protect survivors of crime.

* The other is the Washington Gift of Life Award

** Awarded posthumously