National Defense Service Medal: Wikis


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National Defense Service Medal
The obverse view of the medal shows the American bald eagle, perched on a sword and palm. Above this, in a semicircle, is the inscription National Defense.
National Defense Service Medal
Awarded by United States
Type Service medal
Eligibility Member of the United States military during qualifying periods of national emergency
Awarded for Military service during periods of national emergency
Campaign 1) Korean War
2) Vietnam War
3) Gulf War
4) War on Terrorism
Status Active
Description Obverse: Shows the American bald eagle, perched on a sword and palm. Above this, in a semicircle, is the inscription "National Defense".
Reverse: Shows a shield, as it appears in the Great Seal of the United States; it is half encircled below with an oak leaf to the left and a laurel spray to the right, knotted in the center.

Ribbon: The ribbon has a wide yellow stripe in the center, flanked by narrow stripes of red, white, blue, white and wide red stripes.

Clasps Service star for subsequent awards
Established Executive Order 10448, April 22, 1953 (as amended by E.O. 11265, January 11, 1966; E.O. 12776, October 8, 1991; E.O. 13293, March 28, 2003.
First awarded June 27, 1950 - July 27, 1954 (Korean War)
Last awarded September 11, 2001 - present (War on Terrorism)
Next (higher) Navy: Navy Occupation Service Medal
Marine Corps: Navy Occupation Service Medal
Army: Army of Occupation Medal
Air Force: Army of Occupation Medal
Coast Guard: Navy Occupation Service Medal
Next (lower) Korean Service Medal
Related Global War on Terrorism Service Medal

Streamer NDS.PNG
Ribbon & Streamer for the National Defense Service Medal

The National Defense Service Medal is a military service medal of the United States military originally commissioned by President Dwight D. Eisenhower. Created in 1953, the National Defense Service Medal was intended to be a "blanket campaign medal" awarded to any member of the United States military who served honorably during a designated time period of which a "national emergency" had been declared.


Eligible periods

In the years since the creation of the National Defense Service Medal, it is authorized only for the following time periods.

  • June 27, 1950 to July 27, 1954 for service during the Korean War
  • January 1, 1961 to August 14, 1974 for service during the Vietnam War
  • August 2, 1990 to November 30, 1995 for service during the Gulf War
  • September 11, 2001 to a date to be announced for service during the War on Terrorism

Award Criteria

The National Defense Service Medal is awarded to anyone who serves on active duty in the United States military during the above time periods. For service in the Gulf War and War on Terrorism, members of the military reserve (or National Guard) are awarded the NDSM for performing "reserve service in good standing" which implies regular participation in weekend drills and annual training.[1] The medal is not authorized for members of the inactive reserve component under any circumstances.

The National Defense Service Medal is further authorized to students at the service academies after they are sworn into service, but is not granted to discharged or retired veterans who did not serve in one of the above time periods.

Since the National Defense Service Medal has no other award criteria, except that a recipient must simply join the military, it is generally considered a low-ranking service medal in the order of precedence for wear and display of U.S. military medals. There is also not a time limit imposed for the medals issuance, meaning that someone who joins the military for simply a few days, and then receives an entry level discharge, would technically be entitled to the NDSM; in practice, however, military clerks will not add the NDSM on a DD Form 214 if the service member performed duty for less than 90 days or the completion of their initial entry training. This accounts for the medal's omission from a large number of "uncharacterized" and "entry level" separation documents.[2]

Multiple awards

Multiple awards of the National Defense Service Medal are authorized for members of the military who served in more than one of the eligible time periods; such additional awards are denoted by service stars. A second award of the medal is not granted for reenlisting during the same time period or transferring between branches of service.


Ohio and Maryland offer special National Defense Service Medal service license plates for qualifying veterans with award noted on DD214 or a award note. Ohio offers the plate for free to the qualifying veteran. [3]

Any false written or verbal claim to a decoration or medal or any wear, purchase, attempt to purchase, solicitation for purchase, mailing, shipping, import, export, manufacture, sale, attempt to sell, advertising for sale, trade, or barter of a decoration or medal authorized for wear by authorized military members or veterans is a federal offense punishable by up to six months in jail and up to a $5,000 fine. [4]





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