As a result of his exceptional meritorious service as the Georgian Defense, Military, Naval, and Air Attaché to the United States from August 2012 to June 2017, Colonel Vepkhvia Chalabashvili was granted the Legion of Merit award from the Department of the Army on February 27, 2018. The award is one of only two United States military decorations to be issued as a neck order and the only United States military decoration which may be issued in award degrees. Colonel Chalabashvili received the Degree of Officer.
“It’s very rare to get this award as an international person so when I first heard about it, I thought it was a rumor, but I was touched when I opened the letter because it’s the highest award I have ever received and I'm really proud of it.”
As stated on his award, during his four-year period as Defense Attaché in Washington, Colonel Chalabashvili had several major accomplishments. He planned and executed the critical Bilateral Defense Consultations in 2016. This led to the initiation of the new Georgia Defense Readiness Program which will improve Georgian Force Management processes and increase territorial defense capabilities. In addition, he was instrumental in coordinating the complex General Security of Information Agreement signed by Secretary of State Tillerson and Prime Minister Kvirikashvili in May 2017. Furthermore, his contributions led to the signing of the Three-Year Security Cooperation Framework and the renewal of the Reciprocal Health Care Agreement to establish the conditions for timely and appropriate medical care of diplomats.
Colonel Chalabashvili acknowledged that this award goes out to more than just him. “The award has my name on it, but I would like to say that it belongs to the Ministry of Defense and General Staff of Georgian Armed Forces, as well as the brilliant diplomats of the Georgian Embassy to the United States, who are working tirelessly to promote stability to the Georgian people.”