When I compare my ribbons and attachments with others in my field, I scratch my head and wonder what in the blue blazes have I or haven't I done to not have as much "bling" as some of my peers
RiverAux's point is well made. Taking care of your troops depends on supervisors and commanders being willing to take the time to repay the effort members have devoted to doing a job to the standard of what the award requires. It also depends on an honest system above the unit that does not play politics with awards, favor their friends and penalize those who are not playing politics. For example, I was recommended by the Wing Commander of a certain wing in 1990 with an endorsement by the Wing Liaison Officer for an award for establishing a completely integrated wartime response capability for CAP to support Air Force and joint command ability to reconstitute resources after a nuclear attack. The capability was evaluated in an Air Force evaluated exercise and received an Outstanding rating by the region evaluators, and played in a number of Air Force major command exercises. The recommending Wing Commander died in an accident, my award died with him and the appointment of a new Wing Commander who dismantled the whole system. People in our organization do things regularly that merit some level of award from public thanks to a ribbon, certificate, and ceremony. When we make awards frivolously to those who don't deserve them we destroy confidence in the awards system, in the Commander, and in the organization. The reverse is equally true - when we do not recognize effort and success, we create the certainty that effort does not matter, we do not make examples for others to follow, and we reward mediocrity and organizational stupor. People who do good work, no matter their rank or position or whether their shoes are shined, deserve recognition for their good work.
Also, leaders should never submit themselves for an award they are presenting to their subordinates, regardlessof whether they did the same job or not. I've submitted or sent up plenty of 120s for activities and events where I was just as much, if not more frankly, of a wrench turner as everyone else on the PA, but my name was not included, because I was the commander, and I'm not commending myself.
Nearly every military evaluation and award that I have received were written by me either exclusively or mostly. This was usually done at the direction of my chain of command, "Hey MSgt, you did a great job with that project. Write up a Commendation Medal for yourself and have it on my desk by next week."