The Humanitarian Service Medal: 10 Neat Facts

The Humanitarian Service Medal is an award presented to members of the armed forces who have been involved in helping humans who have suffered from disasters and upheavals. In the following paragraphs, I am going to provide 10 neat facts about the Humanitarian Service Medal. If, after reading this article, you know of some other facts that I didn’t mention, please share them in the comments section.

1: Created

The Humanitarian Service Medal was created on January 19, 1977 under executive order 11965 by President Gerald Ford. The award was retroactive to April 1, 1975.

2: The First…

Humanitarian Service Medal awarded was to all who served at least one day on the U.S.S. Proteus during Operation New Life. The majority of members serving on the Proteus disembarked to erect “Tent City” in Guam for the many refugees who fled from Vietnam when Saigon fell to the Communists.

3: To Receive The Humanitarian Service Medal,

a service member must be on “active duty” at the time of the Department of Defense approval of a humanitarian operation. “Active duty” means being in a full-time roll in the military service.

4: The Humanitarian Service Medal Cannot Be Awarded

for military participation in the protection of properties, civil disobedience that also involves law enforcement, or conflicts involving equal rights to citizens.

5: The Humanitarian Service Medal Was Designed

by Jim Hammond and it was sculpted by Jay Morris who was with the Institute of Heraldy. The front of the medal has an open-palmed hand pointing upwards, and the reverse the medal reads: For Humanitarian Service with an oak branch beneath. At the bottom edge on the reverse the medal reads: United States Armed Forces.

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6: In Order of Importance,

the Humanitarian Service Medal is just below the Armed Forces Services Medal, and it is just above the Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal.

7: The Department of the Army also awards a civilian equivalent to the Humanitarian Service Medal.

It is called the Civilian Award for Humanitarian Service, and it is awarded to both American and foreign civilians who have stepped up and out in humanitarian service.

8: The Amount of Relief…

and humanitarian aid provided by the United States Army, and other branches is so large that it would be impossible to list them on this website without overloading the servers.

9: The largest amount of Humanitarian Service Awards

given thus far is for Operation Damayan. This was a relief effort provided Philippine citizens after Typhoon Haiyan devastated much of the country in 2013.

10: Thus far, the amount of approved operations covers 11 pages.

You can view all of them HERE. If you were involved in helping with any of these disasters, you are probably eligible to be awarded the Humanitarian Service Medal. You must apply to do so.

If you are not sure how to properly apply for your award, just state so here in the comments section. Please explain with what disaster relief you were involved in, and also the branch of service you were in. We will do everything in our power to research the proper channels you need to follow to attain the award you deserve.

Final Thoughts

Did you learn something you did not know about the Humanitarian Service Medal? If you have more to add and share, please leave a comment below to let us know what you think. 

If you have any questions, just ask.

Share this and help others know about this Army award.


chuck holmes

Chuck Holmes
Former Army Major (resigned)

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