I read this book about 8-Apr-2002. This is the first time I've read this book. The book is copyright 1976. This note was last modified Monday, 01-Mar-2004 11:12:22 PST.
This note contains spoilers for the book.
This "Medal of Honor" is even rarer than the current American one. Despite the title, it's a solar-system level award; humans haven't actually managed to leave the solar system yet.
They are, however, locked into a war with an alien species that showed up 50 years ago. Four space fleets from Earth nations met them, and they all attacked. The aliens fled, and the humans formed a world government. And got locked into a permanent state of war, even though the aliens probably never showed up again.
There's also a subplot about the greedy capitalists with no morals, and how the Church works with them. All in all pretty satisfactory. In the end of course the Sub-Lieutenant who wins the medal (fraudulently) ends up setting in train the necessary actions to clean up the whole mess.