Army Overseas Service Ribbon: Top 10 Cool Facts

Let’s take a few minutes and discuss the Army Overseas Service Ribbon.

While getting promoted is normally the top priority for most service members, recognition in the form of awards… medals and ribbons is vitally important.

The pride when a child, grandchild or other friend or family member admires your shadow box full of military awards.

What is this ribbon Grandpa? That, my child, is the Army Overseas Service Ribbon. I was awarded it for serving outside the United States.

army overseas service ribbon

The Army Overseas Service Ribbon

In the paragraphs below, I am going to give you the top 10 cool facts about the Army Overseas Service Ribbon. I will cover the history, the requirements, and other good to know information.

#1: When & Who Established?

The Army Overseas Service Ribbon (OSR) was established by the Secretary of the Army on April 10, 1981, and is awarded to active Army, Army National Guard and Army Reserve in an active reserve status after the completion of a successful overseas tour–if not recognized by another award or campaign medal.  ~ Medals of America

#2: Who Can Receive The Army Overseas Service Ribbon?

To receive the OSR, Soldiers must be credited with a normal overseas tour completion in accordance with AR 614-30 (see Table 3-2). Soldiers who have overseas service with another branch of service (Air Force, Navy, Marines) must be credited with normal overseas tour completion by that service to qualify for award of the OSR. ~

#3: Campaign Awards

Originally, the Army Overseas Service Ribbon would not be awarded to service members if they received a campaign or service medal on the same tour. The Army eliminated that policy and as such, you can be awarded this ribbon even if you have other awards from the same campaign.

#4: More Than 1 Tour

If a service member has more than 1 tour, he/she will not be awarded another ribbon. Instead, a numeral is pinned to the existing ribbon. If you had 4 tours, a number 4 would be pinned to your Army Overseas Service Ribbon.

#5: For Tours Prior To 1981

For those service members who completed tours before the 1981 issuance of this ribbon, they needed to have an active Army status after August of 1981 to be eligible.

#6: Short Tours

According to regulations, Soldiers who serve at least 11 cumulative months over a 24 month period or 9 continuous months on TCS/TDY status can receive overseas tour credit.

#7: 2 For 1?

If a Soldier is on a prescribed OCONUS tour and is deployed on a separate OCONUS TDY/TCS status tour, that Soldier will receive credit for two overseas tours.

#8: Wearing An Equivalent Award

It may seem odd if you spot an Army service member wearing the equivalent award from a different branch. If that service member was, at one time, a member of the other branch and earned the equivalent award, they are authorized to wear that ribbon on their Army uniform. The Navy/Marines, Air Force and Coast Guard all have equivalent ribbons.

Soldiers who have overseas service with another branch of service (AF, Navy, Marines) must be credited with normal overseas tour completion by that service to qualify for award of the OSR. ~ Official Military Ribbons

#9: Posthumous

Soldier’s who die and it is officially listed as “in the line of duty,” they are eligible to receive the Army Overseas Service Ribbon. This is a way for friends and family to remember the member’s dedication to the U.S. and freedom.

#10: Hawaiian Confusion

There has been a lot of confusion from Army personnel about eligibility for anyone deployed to Hawaii. The fact is, Hawaii is now a State and therefore is ineligible as an overseas tour. But for service members who served in Hawaii before it was a State, they ARE eligible.

The biggest confusion comes for Army personnel who served during the declared Statehood. Would you give the ribbon to them? I would. Hawaii became a State in August 1959.

Bonus: Desert Storm & Desert Shield

If you served in Desert Storm or Desert Shield, in most cases, you will qualify or this award.

RC Soldiers who were mobilized and dispatched overseas to locations outside the theater of operations during Operations DESERT SHIELD and DESERT STORM (2 August 1990 to 11 April 1991) are eligible for award of the OSR without regard to the time served overseas as long as the overseas service is not recognized with another U.S. service medal.  ~ Military Wives

army overseas service ribbon

Chuck’s Story

I’m proud of my overseas service ribbon. I deployed for 16+ months to Kosovo back in 2006 and 2007. Being away from my fiancee (now wife) was difficult and stressful. This was one of several service awards I received for my deployment. While it’s not fancy, and doesn’t come with a medal, it looks great sitting next to the other ribbons on my uniform. I also earned one during my deployment to OIF 1 in 2003.


Now, I have heard some opinions that there should be no such thing as an overseas service award. I disagree.

These men and women are leaving their families behind to spend a year or more in a different country with different cultures and often imminent danger. I see nothing wrong with awarding a ribbon thanking them for their overseas military service. What are your thoughts?

Also, I would love to hear from all who have been awarded the Army Overseas Service Ribbon. Give a shout out… Where, when, and how many? You can post all comments and questions below. Thanks for stopping in.

Other Must Read Articles
  1. The Army COA
  2. Army Achievement Medal
  3. Army Commendation Medal
  4. DA Form 638
  5. DA Form 4856
chuck holmes

Chuck Holmes
Former Army Major (resigned)

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4 thoughts on “Army Overseas Service Ribbon: Top 10 Cool Facts”

  1. Being a veteran with overseas service from 1977-79; I have no problem with the requirements concerning this award except in the interest of fairness to all who have met these requirements prior to 1981, particularly during the time of tension leading up to the fall of the Berlin Wall; it deemed appropriate to all members who have sacrificed honorably to receive this recognition instead of a piece of paper and for the DOD to amend the 1981 requirement so it can recognize that tha served in overseas theaters. That’s my personal opinion. Thanks.

  2. Regardless of what you think about Hawaii, AR 614-30 is pretty cut and dry and it does recognize Hawaii and Alaska for a OSR.
    When you’re stationed in those two states, it is considered OCONUS and you will have to command sponsor your family to travel with you, like any other OCONUS duty station. In fact, I was not able to receive BAH for my dependents in Hawaii until they were command sponsored since they were not on my orders prior to getting stationed here.

  3. I feel that any service member stationed overseas should receive this award regardless of time out of CONUS. Overseas separation from family is still a strain on any service member.

    I was awarded the Korean Defense Service Medal (retro active) for my time (many months) back in 1979, but not authorized the Overseas Ribbon (est.1981) because I was called back and reassigned at another post due to emergency hardship reasons. It’s hard to explain to my grandchildren how I was recognized for my service in Korea but not recognized for going overseas to do it. If it’s because of cost, I’d pay for the ribbon, just put it on paper that I was there.

    1. Thanks for your service in Korea. Deploying overseas is definitely stressful, especially when you have your family back home.

      I’m guessing the reason you didn’t get the overseas service ribbon is you weren’t deployed long enough overseas to qualify for it.

      If you are trying to find out if you are currently eligible, I would get with your local VA office and see if they can help. Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment.

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