National Defense Service Medal: Criteria & More

The National Defense Service Medal (NDSM) was first proposed to be a “blanket campaign medal” rewarded to service representatives who provided justly during a labeled time period of which a “national emergency” had been confirmed during a time of war or conflict. It may also be announced to active military representatives for any other period that the Secretary of Defense designates. The NDSM was authorized by Executive Order 10448, declared by President Dwight Eisenhower on April 22, 1953. While no certificate is known which explains the rationale for the award, it was probably authorized to recognize all service members who served during the Korean War to include those who did not serve in the war zone.

Service members who served in the war zone received the Korean Service Medal, authorized by President Harry Truman in 1950. Qualification for the NDSM was widened by executive orders issued in 1966, 1991, and 2003. To date, the NDSM has been awarded for four specific time periods, which roughly correspond to the Korean, Vietnam and Gulf War eras as well as the Global War on Terrorism.

National Defense Service Medal/NDSM

The National Defense Service Medal (NDSM) is a decoration presented to recognize all military members who have served in active duty during a declared “national emergency”.

National Defense Service Medal
National Defense Service Medal

To be eligible, members must have served honorably during one of the following time periods: The Korean War from June 27, 1950 – July 27, 1954; The Vietnam War from January 1, 1961 – August 14, 1974; The Gulf War from August 2, 1990 – November 30, 1995; the War on Terrorism from September 11, 2001 – a yet to be determined date. There is no requirement for the amount of time served within the time frames. Subsequent NDSM awards for active service in more than one of the eligible time periods are denoted by service stars worn on the original award ribbon.

National Defense Service Medal/ NDSM Criteria

The National Defense Service Medal (NDSM) was established by Executive Order 10448, April 22, 1953, as amended by Executive Order 11265, January 11, 1966, and Executive Order 12776, October 18, 1991. It is awarded for honorable active service for any period between June 27, 1950, and July 27, 1954, both dates inclusive; between January 1, 1961, and August 14, 1974, both dates inclusive; between August 2, 1990, and November 30, 1995, both dates inclusive; and from September 11, 2001, to a date to be determined.

National Defense Service Medals
National Defense Service Medals

1. For the purpose of this award, the following persons will not be considered as performing active service

  • Army National Guard and U.S. Army Reserve forces personnel on short tours of duty to fulfill training obligations under an inactive duty training program.
  • Any service member on temporary duty or temporary active duty to serve on boards, courts, commissions, and like organizations.
  • Any service member on active duty for the sole purpose of undergoing a physical examination.

2. In addition to the conditions listed above, Executive Order 12776 extended award of the NDSM to all members of the Army National Guard and the United States Army Reserve who were part of the Selected Reserve in good standing during the period August 2, 1990, to November 30, 1995. During this period, soldiers in the following categories will not be considered eligible

  • Any soldier of the Individual Ready Reserve, Inactive National Guard, or the standby or retired Reserve whose active duty service was for the sole purpose of undergoing a physical examination.
  • Any soldier of the Individual Ready Reserve, Inactive National Guard, or the standby or retired reserve whose active duty service was for training only, or to serve on boards, courts, commissions, and like organizations.

3. On March 28, 2003, the President signed an amendment to Executive Order 10448 that extends the eligibility criteria for the award of the NDSM to members of the selected reserve of the Armed Forces of the United States in good standing during the period beginning September 11, 2001, to a date to be determined to be eligible for award of the NDSM.

4. Any member of the Army National Guard or U.S. Army Reserve who, after December 31, 1960, becomes eligible for the award of the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal or the Vietnam Service Medal, is also eligible for award of the NDSM. The NDSM may be awarded to members of the Reserve Component who are ordered to Federal active duty regardless of the duration (except for categories listed above).

5. To signify receipt of a second or subsequent award of the NDSM, a service star will be worn on the service ribbon by U.S. Army personnel so qualified. The second or third award of the NDSM is authorized for soldiers who served in one or more of the three-time periods as listed in paragraph (a) of this section. It is not authorized for soldiers who met the criteria in one time period, left active duty, and returned during the same period of eligibility. (Service stars are described in § 578.61)

6. Cadets of the U.S. Military Academy are eligible for the NDSM, during any of the inclusive periods listed above, upon completion of the swearing-in ceremonies as a cadet.

NDSM
NDSM

Who Qualifies For The National Defense Service Medal?

The National Defense Service Medal Is Awarded To Those Who Have Served Honorable Active Duty. In 1991 President George W. Bush Issued An Executive Order 12776 To Have The National Defense Service Medal (NDSM) Eligible To Those Who Serve In The Reserve During The Gulf War.

What Is The National Defense Service Ribbon?

The National Defense Service Medal (NDSM) Is A Decoration Presented To Recognize All Military Members Who Have Served In Active Duty During A Declared “National Emergency”.

Is The National Defense Service Medal A Campaign Medal?

The National Defense Service Medal (NDSM) Was First Intended To Be A “Blanket Campaign Medal” Awarded To Service Members Who Served Honorably During A Designated Time Period Of Which A “National Emergency” Had Been Declared During A Time Of War Or Conflict.

Does The NDSM Qualify For VFW?

If You Are A U.S. Citizen Who Has Served Honorably In The Armed Forces And Has Served In An Overseas Conflict, You Are Eligible To Become A Member Of The Vfw. The Vfw Counts Over 75,000 Active-duty, Reserve And National Guard Servicemembers Among Our Ranks.

How Do You Get The National Defense Service Medal?

Criteria For The National Defense Service Medal
The National Defense Service Medal Is Awarded For Honorable Active Service As A Member Of The Armed Forces For Any Period Between June 27, 1950, To July 27, 1954 (For Service During The Korean War).