The Joint Service Commendation Medal was established by Secretary of Defense Robert E. McNamara on June 25, 1963.


The Joint Service Commendation Medal has been effective since January 1, 1963.


The Joint Service Commendation Medal is awarded in the name of the Secretary of Defense to members of the Armed Forces who, while assigned to a joint activity, distinguish themselves by outstanding achievement or meritorious service, but not to an extent that would justify award of the Defense Meritorious Service Medal.


The Joint Service Commendation Medal is worn after the Air Medal and before the Commendation Medals of the separate services.


Additional awards of the joint Service Commendation Medal are denoted by oak leaf clusters. Until 1998 additional awards to Coast Guard personnel were denoted by gold stars five-sixteenths of an inch in diameter. In 1998 the Coast Guard authorized its members to wear oak leaf clusters on this decoration to denote subsequent awards; however, previously authorized gold stars could still be worn.

The bronze "V" device may be worn on the suspension ribbon of Joint Service Commendation Medal when it is awarded for acts or service involving direct participation in combat operations on or after June 25, 1963.


The Joint Service Commendation Medal was designed by Stafford F. Potter of the Army's Institute of Heraldry.


The first recipient of the Joint Service Commendation Medal was Lieutenant Colonel Bruce F. Meyers, USMC, who received the medal in 1963.



The medal consists of four conjoined hexagons (two vertically and two horizontally), of green enamel edged in gold. The top hexagon is charged with thirteen gold five-pointed stars (point up), and the lower hexagon has a gold stylized heraldic delineation. In the center of the conjoined hexagons is an eagle with its wings displayed horizontally and with a shield on its breast. The eagle is shown grasping three arrows in its talons. The conjoined hexagons are contained within a circular laurel wreath bound with gold bands. The areas between the gold band and the re-entrant angles of the hexagons are pierced.

The conjoined hexagons represent the unity of the Armed Forces in providing for the National defense. The eagle is taken from the Seal of the Department of Defense and represents the authority under which the award is given. The thirteen stars allude to the thirteen colonies and hence all of the States; however, since the star also represents the military, the configuration of stars also represents the military tradition of the United States. The heraldic delineation in the lower hexagon represents land, sea, and air, and the laurel wreath represents achievement.


In the center of the medallion there is a plaque for engraving the recipient's name. Above the plaque in two lines are the raised words, FOR MILITARY and below the plaque, MERIT. There is a laurel spray below the word MERIT. The inscription and laurel spray are taken from the Army and Navy Commendation Medals.


The ribbon consists of a center stripe of green bordered by stripes of white, green, white, and light blue. The green and white are adapted from the colors of the Army and Navy Commendation Medals and the light blue represents the Department of Defense.


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