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Commemorative medal of the Balmis operation to recognize the personnel participating in the fight against COVID-19


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Royal Decree 701/2020, of July 28

Commemorative medal of the Balmis operation to recognize the personnel participating in the fight against COVID-19.

 

Royal Decree 1040/2003, of August 1, which approves the General Regulation of military rewards, in its third additional provision authorizes the creation, by royal decree, of commemorative medals and campaign medals to commemorate events of relevant significance for the Armed Forces or for the Homeland, as well as to highlight the participation of civilian or military personnel in certain military operations and campaigns, as recognition of the commemorative event or of participation in operations and campaigns.

On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization defined the public health emergency situation caused by COVID-19 as an international pandemic. The rapid evolution of events, at the national and international levels, has required the adoption of immediate and effective measures to face an unprecedented health crisis, among which is the intervention of the Armed Forces, within the framework of the "Operation Balmis".

"Operation Balmis" has consisted of the integration of the operational, health, logistics, military police and infrastructure capacities belonging to the Military Emergency Unit, the General Health Inspection, the Army, the Navy and the Air Force, made available to the competent authorities. The operation was activated from the declaration of the state of alarm decreed by the Government on March 14.

This operation is part of the actions aimed at protecting the health and safety of citizens, containing the progression of the disease and strengthening the public health system in the national territory with the ultimate goal of saving lives. In it, the Armed Forces have mobilized in support of the civil authorities in the fight against the pandemic, carrying out presence missions by numerous points of the national geography, support for the State Security Forces and Corps, the disinfection of critical infrastructures, ports, airports, stations, hospital facilities, health centers, nursing homes, police facilities, essential public services, setting up of field hospitals, transportation of the deceased and the production of medical devices.

As a consequence of the foregoing, it has been determined the advisability of creating a national medal that recognizes the participation of the personnel of the Armed Forces and civilian personnel assigned to the Ministry of Defense that has intervened in the fight against COVID-19, forming part of "Operation Balmis".

The origin of the decorations lies in the need for any organized society to recognize and reward outstanding and worthy events done for their benefit. At the dawn of the 19th century, on May 17, 1829, the "epidemic distinction cross" was created, with the aim of rewarding the military surgeon Carlos Luis Benoit for his extraordinary and meritorious services during the Asian morbid epidemic that it devastated Manila in 1820. Likewise, this individual decoration was the basis of the civilian crosses of epidemics awarded in 1828 in the Gibraltar epidemic, in the 1838 and in the 1885 epidemic by the cholera of Zaragoza, to health, civil and military personnel that they provided their service in epidemic situations for which there were no vaccines, as is the current situation. Among the criteria that were included for its concession are the declaration of a contagious or epidemic situation, the existence of a mandate or invitation from the authority, the assistance without distinction of rich or poor and the active and effective cooperation provided.

The name of the operation is a tribute to the military doctor Francisco Javier Balmis (1753-1819). The military scientist and surgeon Balmis stood out for his military career, participating in the 1780s in different campaigns with the Zamora Infantry Regiment, one of those assigned to the siege of Gibraltar during the War of Independence of the United States of America, war in the one that also participated in the American continent. There he developed his scientific work, especially through the study of botany, and indigenous plants with medicinal virtues and introducing new species in the Botanical Garden of Madrid. In the 1790s he began to be recognized for its scientific dimension, in addition to the military one, and as a physician and prominent paradigm of the enlightened of the moment, he was appointed honorary chamber surgeon of Carlos IV and dedicated himself to the dissemination of the vaccine against smallpox, discovered in 1796 by Edward Jenner.

Confident in the possibility of being able to eradicate a disease that caused death to about 20 percent of the population, Balmis proposed to the monarch to take the vaccine to his dominions in America, a project that was submitted and approved by the Board of Chamber Surgeons. This gave the green light to the Royal Philanthropic Vaccine Expedition, whose direction was entrusted to its promoter. The port chosen for the departure was that of La Coruña and the means of transport, the corvette María Pita. Balmis was accompanied by the Catalan military surgeon José Salvany, deputy director of the company, two practitioners, three nurses, 22 children from the foundling house of the Galician capital, to inoculate and keep the vaccine during navigation, and, finally, the rector of the house, Isabel Zendal, to take care of them. The latter is considered the first female nurse to participate in an international military operation.

The expedition, developed between 1803 and 1806, and led by the military doctor, enjoyed the military character impregnated by Balmis, and was characterized by seeking constant cooperation with the local authorities involved. The populations of the Canary Islands, America, the Philippines, Macao, Canton and Santa Elena Island were immunized, constituting one of the most important feats promoting public health and health education in the international arena.

This royal decree complies with the principles of necessity and effectiveness that are justified by a reason of general interest based on recognition of the effective and prompt action of personal and material means assigned to the Ministry of Defense to fight the pandemic, and with the The principle of legal certainty as it is included in the framework of the premium law and, moreover, it complies with the principle of efficiency, since it does not imply any administrative burden. Regarding the principle of proportionality, it has the essential content to generate recognition of the actions of civilian and military personnel who have intervened in the creation and maintenance of "Operation Balmis" and, as regards the principle of transparency, is drafted in simple language and access to citizens is facilitated by publication in the "Official State Gazette".

By virtue, in accordance with the provisions of article 149.1.4.ª of the Spanish Constitution, at the proposal of the Minister of Defense and after deliberation by the Council of Ministers at its meeting on July 28, 2020,

I HAVE:

Single article. Creation of the commemorative medal of «Operation Balmis».

1. The commemorative medal of "Operation Balmis" is created to recognize the personnel of the Armed Forces and civilian personnel assigned to the Ministry of Defense who have participated in the fight against COVID-19, within the framework of said operation.

2. By order of the Minister of Defense, all those aspects related to the procedure for the award of the medal, the description of the corresponding decoration and the measures that are necessary for its processing and annotation will be determined.

Single additional provision. Extraordinary concession.

This medal may be awarded, on an extraordinary and exceptional basis, to personnel not included in the scope of this royal decree who have participated with the Armed Forces in "Operation Balmis".

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Electronic translation

 

Ministerial Order 50/2020, of September 4, by which the requirements and procedure for the award, annotation and description of the commemorative medal of Operation Balmis are determined.

Royal Decree 701/2020, of July 28, creates the commemorative medal of Operation Balmis to recognize the personnel participating in the fight against COVID-19. This operation has represented the largest deployment of the Spanish Armed Forces in peacetime. During the development of the operation, the Armed Forces have helped citizens from all corners of Spain to face and mitigate the pandemic and its effects, through continuous and effective support to different public and private Administrations and Institutions.
The second final provision of Royal Decree 701/2020, of July 28, which creates the commemorative medal of the Balmis operation, empowers the head of the Ministry of Defense to adopt the necessary measures required for the execution of this royal decree and, in particular, in accordance with its sole article. 2, to determine the award requirements and the rules on the procedure for processing, awarding and scoring the aforementioned medal.
In order to achieve the greatest speed and simplification in the processing of the recognition of the award of the medal, it is necessary to go to the figure of the delegation of powers of the Minister of Defense to the Chief of Defense Staff, in accordance with the provisions of article 9 of Law 40/2015, of October 1, on the Legal Regime of the Public Sector.
During its processing, the project of this ministerial order has been made known to the professional associations with representation in the Armed Forces Personnel Council and to the rest of the associations registered in the Registry of Professional Associations of members of the Armed Forces.
By virtue of it, in accordance with the provisions of the second final provision of Royal Decree 701/2020, of July 28,
I HAVE:
Article 1. Purpose.
The purpose of this ministerial order is to establish the requirements and procedure for the award, annotation and description of the commemorative medal of Operation Balmis.
Article 2. Scope of application.
This ministerial order is applicable to the personnel of the Armed Forces and civilian personnel attached to the Ministry of Defense who have participated in the fight against COVID-19 within the framework of Operation Balmis.
Article 3. Requirements for the award of the commemorative medal for Operation Balmis.
Military and civilian personnel assigned to the Ministry of Defense who meet the following requirements will be entitled to the award of the honorary medal commemorating Operation Balmis:
1. To have participated in the framework of the Balmis operation, from March 15 to June 20, 2020, performing any of the following missions:
a) Disinfection interventions, transfer of the sick or deceased and treatment of the sick: at least two interventions.
b) Execution of presence patrols on public roads and critical points, reinforcement of borders, surveillance of infrastructures or reconnaissance of sensitive points: at least three days.
c) Duties of direct support to the operation through land, sea or air transport, reception and distribution of medical supplies, castrating activities, support in facilities or food collection and distribution: at least three days or six hours of flight.
d) Personnel of the units in charge of the attention, management and control of air traffic referred to in letter c): at least five days.
e) Those personnel who accumulate at least four days / interventions adding their participation in the activities described in letters a), b) and c).
f) Personnel integrated into command or support structures in command of the operation: at least five days.
g) Health support activities for Authorities and Civil Organizations, as well as support for the civilian population and intervening personnel: at least five days.
h) Support activities for direct relatives of the sick and deceased: at least five days.
i) Deployment on board ships that provide accommodation for third parties or hospital medical capabilities: at least three days.
j) Direct support to hospitals, units and agencies for the execution of administrative sanitary and maintenance tasks: at least three days.
k) Other logistical or health support tasks developed during the Balmis operation: at least three days or six hours of flight.
2. By day is understood the duration of a working day, counting whether they are continuous or discontinuous.
Article 4. Procedure for processing and concession.
1. The procedure for the awarding of the commemorative medal for Operation Balmis will begin ex officio.

2. The General Directorate of Personnel, the General Directorate of Recruitment and Military Education, the Commands and Headquarters of Personnel of the Armies and Navy (MAPER / JEPER), the General Inspection of Defense Health, the Operations Command, the Unit Military of Emergencies and the Military Room of the House of SM The King shall send to the Headquarters of Human Resources of the Defense Staff the nominal list of the personnel who meet the concession requirements. In this relationship, the army, body, scale, employment, specialty, name, surname and national identity document will be specified.
3. Prior to the referral of said nominal relationship, the bodies cited in the previous section will require each of the persons who appear in the relationship, to submit a statement responsible for not having been convicted of a crime, or is not being investigated by criminal acts, or not having been disciplined for very serious or serious offenses committed during the duration of the operation.
4. The Human Resources Headquarters of the Defense General Staff, once the applications have been received, will supervise them and submit them to the consideration and approval of the Defense Chief of Staff for management and subsequent publication in the «Official Gazette of the Ministry of Defence".
5. Personnel who do not depend on the bodies mentioned in section 2 but who are included in the scope of this ministerial order and who meet the criteria for awarding the commemorative medal of Operation Balmis, will be included in the Nominal relations of personnel certified by the MAPER / JEPER to which the military units in which they have been integrated or assigned for the Balmis operation belong, prior declaration of responsibility in section 3.
6. The military and civilian personnel assigned to the Ministry of Defense who consider themselves creditor of the decoration and have not been granted ex officio may request it, by means of a request addressed to the corresponding authority in section 2, which must be accompanied by the documents that justify that qualifies for its award. The administrative silence will be dismissive.
7. The commemorative medal for Operation Balmis may only be awarded to each person worthy of it on one occasion.
8. The ex officio procedure for awarding the commemorative medal will have a maximum duration of six months from the entry into force of this ministerial order.
Article 5. Concession.
The commemorative medal for Operation Balmis will be awarded by the Minister of Defense. Concession power is delegated to the Chief of Defense Staff.
Article 6. Entry of the commemorative medal of Operation Balmis.
The awarding of the commemorative medal of Operation Balmis will be noted in the section related to "Decorations" of the service record of military personnel by the personnel management bodies on which the interested parties depend.

Article 7. Description of the decoration corresponding to the commemorative medal of Operation Balmis.
1. The decoration of the commemorative medal of Operation Balmis will have the following characteristics, as shown in the annex:
a) Medal of circular shape, 32 millimeters wide.
b) On its obverse and in its center, on a gold field, six interlaced hands and in high relief, flesh color, exergue of sinople (green), with the motto, in gold, FUERZAS armadas (Armed Forces) at the top of the semicircle and SIEMPRE POR ESPAÑA (Always for Spain) in the lower part of the semicircle. Bordered with two ribbed branches of laurel that are joined by its trunk, all in gold.
c) On its reverse, smooth, in black wooden letters, it will bear the legend "Operation Balmis." All this stamped with a closed royal gold crown, lined with gules.
d) The ribbon from which the medal must be worn will be 30 millimeters wide and 30 millimeters long, whose colors are red and yellow, in the middle, with two stripes of black on the both Sides. The ribbon will be attached to a gold-colored buckle pin 35 millimeters long and 12 millimeters wide, which allows the ribbon to pass through it and with a safety pin as a closure on the back.
Article 8. Description of the pin of the commemorative medal of Operation Balmis.
The representative pin of the decoration corresponding to the commemorative medal of the Balmis operation, is constituted by the ribbon of the medal in the described colors, 30 millimeters long by 10 millimeters wide, mounted on a gold metal frame, and framed by two side bars of said metal, each 12 millimeters long and 2 millimeters wide, as shown in the annex.
Single additional provision. Extraordinary and exceptional award.
1. The commemorative medal of Operation Balmis may be awarded, on an extraordinary and exceptional basis, to military and civilian personnel assigned to the Ministry of Defense, not included in the scope of this ministerial order, who have participated or collaborated in the Operation Balmis.
2. The procedure will begin ex officio at the request of the Chief of Defense Staff, Undersecretary of Defense or Chiefs of Staff of the Armies and Navy.
3. The Chief of Defense Staff will assess the extraordinary and exceptional circumstances of the participation or collaboration and will submit the proposal to the Minister of Defense for the authorization of the concession.

 

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