Established on April 22, 1953, the National Defense Service Medal honors United States military members who carried out honorable service during designated conflicts. Eligible service is as follows:
-For the Korean War, service between June 27, 1950 and July 27, 1954
-For the Vietnam War, service between January 1, 1961 and August 14, 1974
-For the Persian Gulf War (Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm), service between August 2, 1990 and November 30, 1995
-For counterterror service on or after September 11, 2001
The medal is bronze and features the contour of an eagle grasping a sword; an inscription across the upper portion of the medal reads “NATIONAL DEFENSE.” The reverse features the shield from the United States Seal as well as an oak leaf and a sprig of laurel. The ribbon is red and is bisected by a vertical yellow stripe flanked on either side by a thin line of red, white, blue, and white proceeding outward.
Additional awards may be indicated by bronze stars.