Armed Forces Service Medal – AFSM – Design Changed

Armed Forces Service Medal – History

The Institute of Heraldry has redesigned the Armed Forces Service Medal. Unless you compare the original medal first authorized in 1995 with the new ones being struck you might not notice the change. The new medals being manufactured have a slightly different look and the word “Medal” has been removed from  the front of the medallion. The Medal was instituted in 1995 for service participation in military operations not covered by a specific war medal or the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal. The change to the AFSM is one of 4 medals: GWOT Exp, GWOT Service and the Korea Defense Service Medal that the Institution of Heraldry has made minor modifications to and removed the word “Medal” from. The original medal is still authorized for wear and may still be issued as long as they are in the supply system. If you have been awarded the Armed Forces Service Medal in the past you do not have to replace it and of course the ribbon colors and design have not changed.

The Armed Forces Service Medal was authorized on January 11, 1996 for U.S. military personnel who, on or after June 1, 1992, participate in a U.S. military operation deemed to be a significant activity in which no foreign armed opposition or imminent hostile action is encountered and for which no previous U.S. service medal is authorized. The medal can be awarded to service members in direct support of the United Nations or North Atlantic Treaty Organization and for assistance operations to friendly nations. The initial awards of these military medals were for operations that have occurred in the Balkans since 1992. Qualifications include at least one day of participation in the designated area. Direct support of the operation and aircraft flights within the area also qualify for award of this medal as long as at least one day is served within the designated area. Recent operations that qualify for the medal are Provide Promise, Joint Endeavor, Able Sentry, Deny Flight, Maritime Monitor and Sharp Guard.

The front of the new medal has the torch of liberty within its center and contains the inscription “ARMED FORCES SERVICE ” around its periphery. The original medal read: “ARMED FORCES SERVICE MEDAL”. The reverse of the medal depicts the American eagle with the U.S. shield in its chest and spread wings clutching three arrows in its talons encircled by a laurel wreath and the inscription, “IN PURSUIT OF DEMOCRACY.” Bronze and silver service stars are worn to denote additional awards.

Armed Forces Service Medal – Did you know?

Did You Know? The Armed Forces Service Medal was originally intended to complement the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal. The primary difference between the two is that the AFSM is awarded for actions “through which no foreign armed opposition or imminent threat of hostile action was encountered”. This definition separates the two medals in that the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal is normally awarded for combat operations and other combat support missions.

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