The Joint Service Commendation Medal: 10 Things You Should Know

In today’s post, I will provide an overview of the Joint Service Commendation Medal. 

While there is a high degree of competition between the branches of the United States military, there is also a long standing agreement to work together jointly to defend and protect the United States and her citizens. Ever since 1993, we have found an even greater cooperation between the military services. The reason for this was Base Realignment and Closure. A large amount of military bases were combined and renamed as joint bases. Some of these include:

  • Joint Base San Antonio. The consolidation of Randolph Air Force Base, Fort Sam Houston, Lackland Air Force Base, and Kelly Field Annex. Joint Base San Antonio is controlled by the Air Force.

  • Joint Base Lewis-McChord. Controlled by the Army, this was the consolidation of Fort Lewis and McChord Air Force Base in Washington State.

  • Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson. In Alaska, the consolidation of Elmendorf Air Force Base and Fort Richardson. It is controlled by the Air Force.

These are just a few…there are many more. While at war in Iraq and Afghanistan, smaller Joint bases were normally established. It is imperative that our military forces work together, and they can do that better if they are in close proximity to each other.

joint service commendation medal

The Joint Service Commendation Medal: 10 Facts

In the paragraphs below, we are going to look at a medal that was established recognizing service people who went above and beyond while serving in Joint service. This is 10 things you should know about the Joint Service Commendation Medal.

1: When was it created?

Robert McNamara who was the Secretary of Defense during both the John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson administrations, established the Joint Service Commendation Medal. This was done on June 25th, 1963, but was effective from January 1st, 1963.

2: Who designed it?

The Institute of Heraldry is the primary ones who design medals and awards for the United States military. Stafford F. Potter of the Institute of Heraldry was the person who designed this magnificent award.

3: The design

A laurel wreath encircles the green enameled hexagons. They are four hexagons joined together representing joint military service. The top hexagon has 13 stars and in the center is the Eagle from the seal of the Department of Defense. The Eagle is grasping three arrows and has a shield on its breast. The wreath and outer edge of the green enamel is gold. The ribbon holds stripes of green, white and blue. On the back is the inscription: For Military Merit. Between Military and Merit is a place where the recipient’s name can be engraved.

4: The first recipient.

The first recipient of the Joint Service Commendation Medal was Lieutenant Colonel Bruce F. Meyers of the United States Marine Corps. Meyers served in three wars:

  • World War II

  • Korea

  • and Vietnam

5: If a Bronze Star cannot be awarded

The Joint Service Commendation Medal is awarded for valorous actions against an enemy, but not to the extent of justifying the award of a Bronze Star. Essentially, this award is just below the Bronze Star.

6: If in combat

If the Joint Service Commendation Medal is awarded to a service member who received it due to his/her actions in combat operations, a “V” device will be given also to be put on the ribbon. This shows that it was during combat operations.

7: More than one award

While no service member can receive more than one Joint Service Commendation Medal for the same occurrence, a service member can receive more than one for different actions. Any extra awards are designated with oak leaf clusters that are pinned to the ribbon.

8: Equal, but not equal

Each branch of the military has a commendation medal. If a service member has been awarded an Army Commendation Medal and a Joint Service Commendation Medal, they are considered equal in stature, but when it comes to uniform wear, the Joint Service Commendation Medal is worn above any other commendation medals.

9: Foreign military personnel

The Joint Service Commendation Medal can be awarded to foreign military personnel who were assigned to Joint staff commands. They had to distinguish themselves with meritorious actions or service. This procedure was allowed after February 6th, 2006.

facts about the joint service commendation medal

10: Recommendation of the Joint Service Commendation Medal.

Commanders can recommend military personnel for this distinguished award. Here is a sample:

Major Jason Richards, United States Army, distinguished himself above and beyond his call of duty with exceptional meritorious service on or about June 16th, 2009.

In service with Special Operations Joint Task Force-Afghanistan, Major Richards was contacted about a Mi-17 which had crash landed just 3 kilometers from his site. With the knowledge that enemy insurgents could utilize key components of the military vehicle, Major Richards made quick and decisive decisions to first send a team to guard the downed helicopter. He then proceeded to use his leadership skills in the recovery of the downed rig. During the recovery operations, a firefight ensued with terrorist elements.

Due to Major Richards’ solid and quick thinking, United States Army equipment and personnel were evacuated, and 4 insurgents were killed in the process.

The leadership accomplishments of Major Richards reflect great credit upon himself, SOJTF-Afghanistan, and the United States Army.

This should have a cover letter attached explaining what award the service member is recommended for, his/her name and serial number, operation, his/her duty, and previous awards. It should also have contact information for the commander who is writing the recommendation.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, the Joint Service Commendation Medal is a great award recognizing service members who went above and beyond their duty requirements while serving in Joint service operations. If you’ve have the honor of receiving the Joint Service Commendation Medal, I would love to hear from you. Perhaps, you could share the citation in the comment section below?

I believe as time proceeds, we will find more of these medals awarded, because Joint Operations are very common in today’s military. What are your thoughts? Please tell us in the comment section below. I look forward to hearing from you. Hooah!

Other Posts You Might Enjoy:
  1. The Army Achievement Medal
  2. The Army Commendation Medal
  3. Military Drill Weekend
  4. Military Career Tips
  5. The Army Certificate of Achievement
chuck holmes

Chuck Holmes
Former Army Major (resigned)

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7 thoughts on “The Joint Service Commendation Medal: 10 Things You Should Know”

  1. Nelson A. Surette
    September 20, 2023 AT 12:33

    I received my Joint service Commendation Medal from January 1982 to
    September 1985 while providing support for the mission of the National Security Agency.

  2. 12Sep03, I was awarded the JSCM as an Intelligence Specialist 2nd Class Petty Officer while stationed at USTRATCOM, Offutt AFB, Nebraska for exceptionally meritorious service as the Command MASINT Collection Manager from Dec 2000 to Sep 2003. During my time, I expertly led the integration of MASINT Collection management processes within the JIC which culminated in a 200% increase in the generation of new command requirements. I also effectively prioritized Collection requirements which resulted in exploiting over 300 multi-discipline products supporting fused Intelligence analysis. I also coordinated and led several effective training events including a highly successful command-wide MASINT Day event while receiving accolades from the Commander, Joint Intelligence Center. I retired my Naval career in 2006. I’ve got co-workers who are veterans and they always ask me about this award because they’ve never knew of anyone that was ever awarded the JSCM.

  3. Eric Herington

    I was assigned to the 728th mp bn hhd and we were deployed to Afghanistan from 2011-2012. I received the jsam on October 30th 2011, the day after the events took place. A vbied with 1700 klg of hme took out a rhino with returning soldiers from RNR. They weren’t scheduled for a return that day. We found out later it was supposed to hit our unit. well after the initial blast they recovered the surviving soldiers, a mix from our unit and Canadian and Austrian soldiers. They were medivact out. Me and my platoon sgt at the time were only ones H8(vehicle recovery specialist) when we got done cordon off the area we started the recovery operations where we (I) found 2 more charred bodies in the rear part of the rhino and as I was beginning to lift the rhino I was informed of 2 Afghan children that were crushed when the rhino landed. We got it up enough for me to recover the bodies and put into body bags, by end of day I was covered in blood and fuel and black char from everything. Colorless in shock and defeated. A day I’ll never forget. There were other event that happened that deployment but those kids never left my memories.

  4. Stephen Washington

    I received a JSCM while I was in SHAPE Belgium from 1984 through 1987 conducting courier services all over Europe.

  5. Gregory Williams

    I received the Joint Service Commendation while stationed at NORAD from 1977-1984. My Commanding Officer in Germany presented it to me with an empty box because they couldn’t find the actual medal at the time and no one had ever seen one! I eventually received one in 1990 when my wife had it sent to me from the military after she sent my records about it!

  6. Robert E Larson

    I received the Joint Service Commendation Medal while serving with the SACEUR Security Detachment stationed at SHAPE Belgium. 1980-1983. I was a Military Policeman guarding General Bernard W Rogers, Supreme Allied Commander.

    1. I was drafted in 1969, trained for a year and served in Vietnam 1970-71 as an Army E5 Interpreter/Interrogator in the field with the 493d MI Det/9th Inf Div in the Delta and later in Saigon with the 525th MI Group at the Combined Military Interrogation Center (CMIC) on the CIA sponsored RVN Chieu Hoi Center where I carried a J2 card whuch authorized wearing civilian clothing. I was awarded the JSCM for this service. I’d never heard of it. They didn’t have any in stock and I had to request it after discharge.

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