The Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal: What You Should Know

While military service members provide protection for civilians against enemy forces, there are those who have gone over and above in their service to civilians. You will recognize these soldiers when you see the bronze medal with a 5 pointed star. Behind the star are 5 annulets laced together, and a laurel wreath surrounds all. It is called the Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal. With the medal also comes a service ribbon that has 3 distinct colors:

  1. Bluebird
  2. Goldenlight
  3. Green

If a service member wins more than one award, he/she is given service stars to display upon their service ribbon.

The Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal was authorized by George H.W. Bush on January 9th, 1993. It was under executive order 12830. It can be awarded to any United States armed forces member including the National Guard and Army Reserve who after Dec. 31, 1992 performed outstanding community service of a voluntary nature. That community service has to be sustained, direct and consequential.

This award is attained by service members who have provided volunteer services that go beyond the Soldier’s primary duties. This service cannot be a part of any military mission. The service must be to the civilian community, and it can include the military family community. The volunteer service also must reflect with favor upon the military and the Department of Defense.

As a Soldier, you may be thinking this would be a simple award to earn. If your thoughts are to go work at the next soup kitchen in the city for one meal, don’t count on getting the Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal.

Now, if you are willing to volunteer for a 3 year stint of working at the soup kitchen, your commander may just request that you get this outstanding medal. As a matter of fact, it is declared that a service member must be in the volunteer position for an amount of time that will show a diligence to the volunteer service with the primary time being 3 years or 100 hours.

Who approves and awards the Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal?

According to Paragraph 2-16, Army Regulation 600-8-22, the MOVSM can be approved and awarded by commanders with the rank of Brigadier General or higher, and the rank of Colonel if he/she has general court-martial authority.

If you have a Soldier that you feel deserves the honor of receiving the Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal, you must ensure the member meets the eligibility requirements. To aid the process of determining if the Soldier is awarded this prestige medal, attaching documents to the proper form that show records of the hours he/she volunteered, letters of recommendation from supervisors of the volunteer organization, and any other paperwork that could be relevant and aide the process.

The proper forms are:

  • Army-DA Form 638

  • Navy/Marines-SECNAV 1650/2

  • Air Force-AF Form 1206

  • Coast Guard-CG 1650

Have you received the MOVSM? Have you had a Soldier under your command who has or deserves this award? If so, please tell us about the service you, or the Soldier performed in the comments below.

If you wear the MOVSM, you have a right to be proud. It is from volunteers that this world is made a better place. If you are curious about volunteer activities that you can perform to attain an award like this, you may consider:

  1. Habitat For Humanity
  2. Salvation Army
  3. Local Homeless Shelters
  4. Soup Kitchens
  5. Much More

There are always opportunities to volunteer, just look around you.

chuck holmes

Chuck Holmes
Former Army Major (resigned)

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