HomeAboutFact SheetsDisplay

Joint Service Commendation Medal

U.S. Air Force graphic by Staff Sgt. Alexx Pons

U.S. Air Force graphic by Staff Sgt. Alexx Pons

BACKGROUND

This decoration, established by the Department of Defense on June 25, 1963, is awarded by the office of the Secretary of Defense, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and other Department of Defense agencies or joint activities reporting through the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Any member of the Armed Forces who distinguishes himself by meritorious achievement or service while serving in any specified activity after Jan. 1, 1965, is eligible for this award. However, it will not be awarded for any period of service for which any of the Commendation Medals of the branches of the Armed Forces are given.

 

MEDAL DESCRIPTION

The medal (pictured above) consists of four conjoined hexagons of green enamel. Centered on this is an eagle in gold with outspread wings, grasping three arrows in its talons (as depicted on the seal of the Department of Defense). Above the eagle are 13 gold stars, and at the base is a gold stylized heraldic delineation representing land, sea, and air. This design is enclosed by a circular wreath of laurel bound with bands, also in gold. The reverse has a tablet in the center, suitable for engraving, and the words “For Military Merit.” At the bottom is a sprig of laurel.

 

RIBBON DESCRIPTION

The ribbon has a center stripe of laurel green, on either side of which are stripes of white, green, and white, and at the edges wide stripes of light blue.

 

AUTHORIZED DEVICES

Oak Leaf Cluster, Combat “C”, Remote “R” and Valor “V” Devices

 

ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA FOR COMBAT “C” DEVICE

The "C" device was established to distinguish an award earned for exceptionally meritorious service or achievement performed under combat conditions on or after Jan. 7, 2016 (this is not retroactive prior to this date).

 

The device is only authorized if the service or achievement was performed while the service member was personally exposed to hostile action or under significant risk of hostile action:

  • While engaged in action against an enemy of the United States

  • While engaged in military operations involving conflict with an opposing foreign force; or

  • While serving with friendly foreign forces engaged in an armed conflict against an opposing armed force in which the United States is not a belligerent party

The use of the "C" device is determined solely on the specific circumstances under which the service or achievement was performed. The award is not determined by geographic location. The fact the service was performed in a combat zone, a combat zone tax exclusion area, or an area designated for imminent danger pay, hardship duty pay, or hostile fire pay is not sufficient to qualify for the "C" device. The service member must have been personally exposed to hostile action or under significant risk of hostile action.

 

Rank/Grade will not be a factor in determining whether the "C" device is warranted, nor will any quotas, official or unofficial, be established limiting the number of "C" devices authorized for a given combat engagement, a given operation, or cumulatively within a given expanse of area or time.

 

ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA FOR REMOTE “R” DEVICE

The "R" device was established to distinguish an award earned for direct hands-on employment of a weapon system that had a direct and immediate impact on a combat operation or other military operation (i.e. outcome of an engagement or specific effects on a target). Other military operations include Title 10, United States Code, support of non-Title 10 operations, and operations authorized by an approved execute order.

 

The action must have been performed through any domain and in circumstances that did not expose the individual to personal hostile action, or place him or her at significant risk of personal exposure to hostile action:

  • While engaged in military operations against an enemy of the United States; or

  • While engaged in military operations involving conflict against an opposing foreign force; or

  • While serving with friendly foreign forces engaged in military operations with an opposing armed force in which the United States is not a belligerent party

Basis for a Decoration

  • The "R" device is only authorized for a specific achievement (i.e. impact awards) and will not be authorized for sustained performance or service (i.e. end-of-tour, separation or retirement decorations)

  • Recognition for direct and immediate impact shall be based on the merit of the individual's actions, the basic criteria of the decoration, and the "R" device criteria

  • Performance of a normal duty or accumulation of minor acts will not justify the "R" device. The act must have been: performed in a manner significantly above that normally expected and sufficient to distinguish the individual above members performing similar acts

  • A decoration should only be recommended in cases where the event clearly merits special recognition of the action (i.e. achieving a strategic objective or saving of lives on the ground)

ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA FOR VALOR “V” DEVICE

The "V" device is worn on decorations to denote valor, an act or acts of heroism by an individual above what is normally expected while engaged in direct combat with an enemy of the United States, or an opposing foreign or armed force, with exposure to enemy hostilities and personal risk.

 

Effective Jan. 7, 2016, the “V” device is authorized on the Air Force Commendation Medal. As a reminder, the use of the "V" device on the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award and the Air Force Organizational Excellence Award is only authorized for the period of Jan. 11, 1996 to Jan. 1, 2014.

 

(NOTE: The establishment of the Gallant Unit Citation and Meritorious Unit Award warranted the discontinuance of the "V" device being authorized for approved USAF unit awards).

 

WEIGHTED AIRMAN PROMOTED SYSTEM POINT VALUE: 3