Changes to service medals announced

January 8, 2020 - Defence stories

As part of Strong, Secure, Engaged, (SSE 7), the Government of Canada is modernizing the Canadian Armed Forces Honours and Awards system to ensure military members’ service to Canada is recognized in a more timely and appropriate manner.

This initiative encompasses the modernization of the overseas service recognition framework. The objective is to make service medals more accessible and flexible to make sure that Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) members receive appropriate recognition for their participation in and direct support to operations.

As part of this initiative, changes to the eligibility list for the Special Service Medal (SSM) with NATO bar and a reduction of the time criteria to 45 days for both the NATO and EXPEDITION bars to that same medal were announced on February 18, 2018 in CANFORGEN 021/18 (link accessible only on the National Defence network).

The Government has now recently approved a number of additional measures to meet the stated intent: 

  1. The time criteria for the General Campaign Star (GCS), General Service Medal (GSM) and Operational Service Medal (OSM) have been reduced to ensure recognition remains attainable to participants in light of new deployment patterns where CAF members more often deploy for short periods of time. Each ribbon for each of those medals has a new time criteria beginning with an appropriate recent (post-Afghanistan) operational date as per the table below. There are transition measures which ensure that anyone who serves at least one eligible day after the stated date is allowed to cumulate any previously accrued time towards the new criteria for the medal. The criteria for the rotation bars will not be affected by these changes meaning that the first bar will continue to be awarded after a total of 210 eligible days while subsequent bars are awarded for every period of 180 eligible days thereafter.
Medal & Ribbon Former Criteria New Criteria Effective Date
GCS-SOUTH-WEST ASIA 30 Days 14 Days 13 March 2014
GCS-EXPEDITION 30 Days 14 Days 5 October 2014
GSM-SOUTH-WEST ASIA 30 Days 14 (civilians in GCS theatre) or
21 days (military and civilians out of theatre)
13 March 2014
GSM-EXPEDITION 30 Days 14 (civilians in GCS theatre) or
21 days (military and civilians out of theatre)
5 October 2014
OSM-SIERRA LEONE 30 Days 21 Days 17 February 2013
OSM-HAITI 30 Days
21 Days 1 July 2017
OSM-SUDAN 30 Days
21 Days 30 July 2016
OSM-HUMANITAS 30 Days
14 Days 28 April 2015
OSM-EXPEDITION 30 Days
21 Days 15 May 2014
  1. The Special Service Medal, which had up to now been reserved for CAF members, has been amended to expand eligibility to Canadian civilians and members of allied forces working for the CAF from 29 April 2014 onwards to align this medal with other modern service medals which allow recognition of all members of the Defence Team who play a key role in the success of our operations.
  2. The limitations for visits in theatre have been reduced. As a result, Technical Assistance Visits, Staff Inspection Visits, Staff Assistance Visits and specialists visits in theatre will now be credited towards the appropriate service medal. Visits for the purpose of command, familiarization, leadership and morale remain excluded from eligibility.

These changes will ensure that recognition is keeping pace with the evolving nature of current and future CAF operations and remains a worthy and attainable reward for personnel while preserving the symbolic value and respect for the service medals in question.

Please refer to CANFORGEN 001/20 (link accessible only on the National Defence network) or to the Canadian Medals Chart for more information.

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