Canadian Forces Medallion for Distinguished Service

The official description, eligibility, criteria, and history of the Canadian Forces Medallion for Distinguished Service.

Canadian Forces Medallion for Distinguished Service


The Canadian Forces Medallion for Distinguished Service (CFMDS) is awarded by the Chief of the Defence Staff (CDS) on behalf of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) to recognize distinguished or outstanding service performed by persons other than active military personnel or by civilian groups.

Eligibility and criteria

Awarded for service of a rare and exceptionally high standard, usually over a long period of time, which accrues great benefit to the CAF as a whole.

Only non-military service, that is, service that is rendered while the person is not an active member of the CAF or the armed forces of any other country, is eligible for consideration for this award. 

Both Canadian and foreign citizens are eligible for this award. They need not work for the Department of National Defence (DND) or any other Canadian government department or agency.

Members of the CAF Supplementary Reserve are eligible for the award in recognition of non-military service. Personnel holding honorary appointments are not eligible for the CFMDS; however, they can be considered for the CDS Commendation or Command Commendations.

The performance by civilian individuals of a specific deed or activity, beyond the demands of normal duty and limited in time, may instead be recognized by the CDSC.


A twelve-sided silver coloured medallion, 76 mm across the points, bearing on the obverse the superimposed symbols of the three services: the anchor, the crossed swords’ and the flying eagle, topped by the Royal Crown; the whole superimposed on four maple leaves within a raised circle. On the edge of the medallion appear, between branches of laurel leaves, the inscriptions “DISTINGUISHED SERVICE” and “SERVICE DISTINGUÉ”.

The reverse displays a wreath of laurel and maple leaves around the perimeter leaving the center plain to allow the engraving of the recipient’s name.
The Medallion is accompanied by a scroll bearing the badge of the Canadian Armed Forces embossed in gold, the name of the recipient and an appropriate citation, and signed by the CDS and a lapel badge.


Not Applicable


A lapel badge accompanies the individual awards of the CFMDS.


Not Applicable

Historical notes

The Canadian Forces Medallion for Distinguished Service (CFMDS) was initiated by then Chief of the Defence Staff, General Gérald Charles Édouard Thériault, CMM, CD, and created by his successor General Paul David Manson, OC, CMM, CD, in 1987, with the first award being approved in 1989.
On January 1, 2010, the design of the CFMDS was modified to a silver-coloured medallion as described above, reprising the look of the Canadian Forces’ Unit Commendation: a twelve-sided gold coloured medallion created in 1980.

Originally, the design for this award consisted of a rectangular plaque, 70 mm wide and 75 mm in length with a bronze finish. On the obverse, centered near the top of the medallion were the superimposed symbols of the three services: the anchor, the crossed swords, and the flying eagle, topped by the Royal Crown; the whole within a raised circle, the background of which was enamelled royal blue. On either sides of the circle were four maple leaves. Below this were the inscriptions “PRESENTED TO” and “PRÉSENTÉ À”, a space to engrave the name of the recipient, and the inscription “DISTINGUISHED SERVICE DISTINGUÉ” with laurel branches on either side. The reverse was blank. The original scroll bore some of the design elements from the Medallion embossed in gold. This was also replaced by the scroll described above on January 1, 2010.  A lapel badge was created in early 2015 for recipients who have been awarded the CFMDS since its design was changed in 2010.

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