The Armed Forces Reserve Medal: 7 Things You Should Know

The Armed Forces Reserve Medal is an award given to recognize the special service provided by both Army Reserves and Army National Guard Soldiers who are in either officer or enlisted positions. All branches of the service recognize their reserves with a similar medal, but in this article we are going to look at 7 things you should know about the Armed Forces Reserve Medal.

Many of these facts do cross over to the other Armed Forces Reserve Medals, too. If you have more information about this medal we should know, please leave a comment below.

# 1 The Armed Forces Reserve Medal was approved by Executive Order 10163 on the 25th of September, 1950 by President Harry Truman.

# 2 This award is given to both officers and enlisted soldiers that have completed at least 10 years of service in either a Reserve or National Guard position. These 10 years must be completed within a 12 year period. The reason for the extra 2 years is if the person must serve on Active Duty for a short period of time.  Any time in a regular component does not count toward the 10 year Reserve Medal, but it also does not count against it. Upon return to the Reserve or Guard unit, the time proceeds to run for the purpose of attaining the Army Armed Forces Reserve Medal.

# 3 One year of service in a Reserve or Guard unit is qualified when a Soldier or officer gains at the minimum 50 retirement points during that year. Points can be attained in many ways including:

  • 1 point for each drill period

  • Reserve and Guard components are given an automatic 15 points just for membership each year

  • 1 point for every period of duty either appropriate or equivalent, and 1 point for each period of equivalent instruction

  • Points vary for completion of correspondence courses

  • 1 point for every day of training duty

  • 1 point for each day of active duty

# 4 Hourglass devices denote those who have served a required amount of years. Before 1996, a member was issued the award after 10 years with no hourglass device. At 20 years they would receive 1 hourglass, and every 10 years the officer or Soldier would then receive a 2nd bronze hourglass. Executive Order 13013 signed August 6, 1996 changed that system. Upon 10 years service, the member receives the award and one bronze hourglass. At 20 years a silver hourglass is presented, and gold at 30 years. If a Soldier or officer reaches 40 years, a gold and bronze hourglass is the award.

# 5 The same Executive Order in #4, 13013 signed by President Bill Clinton authorized the “M” device to be presented with the Armed Forces Reserve Medal. A Soldier or officer can receive the award without being a member 10 years if they were involuntarily mobilized for a contingency operation. Those members receive the award with a “M” device. At this time the operations which allowed members of the Reserve or Guard units deployed are:

  • Desert Shield

  • Desert Storm

  • Restore Hope

  • Uphold Democracy

  • Enduring Freedom

  • Joint Endeavor

  • Joint Guard

  • Joint Forge

  • Noble Eagle

  • Desert Fox

  • Northern Watch

  • Southern Watch

  • Allied Force

# 6 Appropriate wear of the medal is: If no “M” device, the hourglass goes in the center. If the member has just the “M” device, it is in the center (if multiple “M” devices have been awarded, they are awarded with an Arabic number-this will go to the member’s left of the “M” device). If both a “M” device and an hourglass are registered, the hourglass goes to the member’s right position, the “M” device in the center, and if there is a numeral, it goes to the left.

# 7 Commanding officers are responsible for filing the proper forms when a Soldier under their command has completed eligibility to receive the Army Armed Forces Reserve Medal. Commanders, please watch closely and make sure those under your command receive this honor they deserve. If you feel you are eligible and have not received your award, just follow the chain of command and ask.

Final Thoughts

In summary, the Armed Forces Reserve Medal is an award given to recognize the special service provided by both Army Reserves and Army National Guard Soldiers who are in either officer or enlisted positions.  If you’ve earned this medal wear it with pride!

chuck holmes

Chuck Holmes
Former Army Major (resigned)

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