Established on January 11, 1996, the Armed Forces Service Medal honors United States Armed Forces personnel who have carried out service in operations or other activities deemed significant by the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Awardees must not have faced imminent danger or hostile enemy encounters during this service. Eligible operations may fall under the umbrella of peacekeeping activity, humanitarian activity, or activity supporting the United Nations or NATO.
The service may have been carried out over a period of 30 days consecutively or 60 days nonconsecutively; alternatively, eligible individuals may have carried out service as an aircraft crew member participating in regular flights in the vicinity of the operation.
The medal features the image of the Statue of Liberty’s torch with rays extending outward. An inscription reading “ARMED FORCES SERVICE MEDAL” encircles the image. The reverse of the medal features an eagle over a wreath of laurel and an inscription that reads “IN PURSUIT OF DEMOCRACY.” The ribbon features a light blue central section followed by thin vertical stripes on each side proceeding outward in yellow, light green, green, and teal. The ribbon’s edging is yellow.
Service stars may be issued to indicate subsequent awards.