The Department of Defense approved the award of the Armed Forces Service Medal and Humanitarian Service Medal to recognize service members for participation in COVID-19 operations or activities. Both active and reserve component members are eligible for such recognition, according to a DOD press release.
The period of award for both medals is from Jan. 31, 2020, to a future “to be determined” termination date. There is no designated “area of eligibility” for the awards because of the “global nature” of the pandemic. Instead award authorities, according to the release, determine eligibility based on participation in qualifying operations and activities.
Service secretaries determine eligibility based on DOD award criteria. The Chief of the National Guard Bureau determines eligibility for National Guard members who don’t fall under the purview of a service secretary.
Service members cannot receive both medals for the same activities. As an exception, the Armed Forces Service Medal is authorized for award for 30 days of qualifying service.
The Armed Forces Service Medal deployment requirement is waived for non-deployed service members, provided the members were re-assigned from their normal duties to primarily perform duties related to DOD COVID-19 operations or activities for 30 consecutive or non-consecutive days.
The Armed Forces Service Medal is authorized for one day of qualifying service if that service resulted in the member contracting the virus.
According to the Naval History and Heritage Command website, the Armed Forces Service Medal was initially signed into law in 1996 by then-President Bill Clinton.
“The medal is awarded to members of the Armed Forces who, as a unit, participate in a United States military operation deemed to be a significant activity and who encounter no foreign armed opposition or imminent hostile action. In many respects, this provision makes the award a non-combat parallel of the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal,” the site stated.
The Humanitarian Service Medal, according to the Naval History and Heritage Command website, “is awarded to members of the Armed Forces of the United States who, after 1 April 1975 distinguished themselves by meritorious direct participation in a Department of Defense approved significant military act or operation of a humanitarian nature. It is not awarded for participation in domestic disturbances involving law enforcement, equal rights to citizens, or protection of properties”.
For more information about eligibility requirements for these awards in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic view the original memo here.Read comments