The Army Achievement Medal: Common Questions and Answers

Army Achievement MedalAs a small unit leader, I believe that you should educate yourself about the Army Achievement Medal.  This medal is a very effective “reward” or “tool” to praise and recognize your soldiers for doing a good job.  And when used properly, it can have a major positive impact with the morale in your unit.

History of the Army Achievement Medal

The Army Achievement Medal was created in 1981.  It is normally given for specific achievements that aren’t “worthy” of a Commendation Medal or Meritorious Service Medal.  At the present moment in time, AAMs can be issued for contribution during combat.  Prior to 2002, this option was not available.

Who Can Approve an AAM?

The O-5 Battalion Commander (LTC) is the approving authority for the AAM.  Of course, the person must be in a Command position, so a Lieutenant Colonel Staff Officer cannot be the approval authority.  Normally, it is the first Battalion Commander in the recommended soldier’s chain of command.

Army Achievement Medal Bullets

This award is used to recognize individual achievements, and is not for commendations or as a service medal.  I’ve seen AAMs presented for:

  • Scoring a 300 on the APFT
  • Graduating School as an Honor Grad
  • Qualifying 40 of 40 with your assigned weapon
  • Performing a task above the Army Standards
  • Working on a project during “off duty” time
  • Doing a job in a  position above your current pay grade
  • And much more!

Ultimately, what “achievements” are worthy of a medal are at the discretion of your Battalion Commander, since they are the approving authority.

Who Can Receive an Army Achievement Medal?

Officers up to the rank of O-4 and enlisted soldiers up to the rank of E-7.  In addition, you must check to make sure that soldiers are not flagged.  Soldiers must also have a current APFT and weapons qualification (in most cases).  This criteria changes from time to time, so check with your unit S1.

Approval Process

Please know that anyone can submit anyone for an award.  However, most awards are normally written by a superior NCO or Officer in the soldier’s chain of command and then sent up the chain of command for the approval process.  In most cases, the Company Commander will “recommend approval” or “recommend disapproval” but ultimately the Battalion Commander is the approving authority.  Once the Battalion Commander approves the award, it is sent to S1 to type up the certificate and finalize the award, to make it ready for presentation.  Please know that the Battalion Commander can approve, disapprove, or even “upgrade” the award.

Reasons to Submit Soldiers for an Army Achievement Medal

There are many reasons to submit soldiers for an Army Achievement Medal.  First and foremost, it costs you nothing to do.  Anyone can write up an award in 30-60 minutes.  Another reason to submit soldiers for an AAM is that it improves morale in your unit.  I’ve never met anyone who turned down an Army medal and I’ve never met anyone who didn’t like to be recognized for their achievements.  In addition, soldiers can earn promotion points via their Medals, so it’s a great way to help your soldiers get more promotion points.

Final Thoughts

As a small unit leader, make sure that you submit your “deserving” soldiers for an Army Achievement Medal.  Use your own discretion to decide what is “deserving” and treat your soldiers equally.  I’ve found that if you “look for the good” you will find plenty of things you can recognize your soldiers for.

What are your thoughts? Have you been awarded an Army Achievement Medal? What was the reason? Please provide your comments and questions below. Thank you.

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