The National Defense Service Medal is a service medal of the United States Armed Forces established by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1953. The medal was first intended to be a "blanket campaign medal" awarded to service members who served honorably during a designated time period of which a "national emergency" had been declared during a time of war or conflict. It may also be issued to active military members for any other period that the Secretary of Defense designates.
Currently, the National Defense Service Medal is the oldest "service medal" in use by the United States Armed Forces.
The National Defense Service Medal is authorized for the following time periods:
Korean War June 27, 1950 July 27, 1954
Vietnam War January 1, 1961 August 14, 1974
Persian Gulf War August 2, 1990 November 30, 1995
Global War on Terrorism September 11, 2001 Present day
The National Defense Service Medal (NDSM) is awarded to anyone who serves on active duty in the United States military during the above time periods. Reserve Component service during the Korean and Vietnam periods, other than those Reserve Component personnel in a full-time status or on active duty greater than 89 days, did not qualify for award of the NDSM.
For service in the Gulf War, members of the Reserve Component (in good standing), to include the National Guard, were initially awarded the NDSM when called to active duty service, but this was later expanded to include all members of the Reserve or National Guard in good standing on the Reserve Active Status List (or equivalent) during the eligibility period.
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