Established on November 3, 1977, the Defense Meritorious Service Medal honors outstanding service carried out in a non-combat context on joint assignment with the Department of Defense and of a lesser degree than would warrant the Defense Superior Service Medal. It is the third most prestigious award presented by the Department of Defense. Eligible service usually takes place over a period of at least one year.
The medal is bronze and features an eagle in front of a pentagon shape and encircled by a two-ply laurel wreath. On the reverse, inscriptions read “DEFENSE MERITORIOUS SERVICE” and “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,” and there is space to engrave the honoree’s name. The ribbon is white and features three thin vertical light blue stripes toward the center as well as a thicker fuschia stripe toward each edge.
Subsequent awards may be indicated by oak leaf clusters.