Service medal
A service medal is a military award generally of the lowest degree. A service medal is awarded to a member of the military
A military is an organization authorized by its greater society to use lethal force, usually including use of weapons, in defending its country by combating actual or perceived threats. The military may have additional functions of use to its greater society, such as advancing a political agenda e.g...

 who joins the military, or is already serving, during a designated time period. No other requirement is needed to obtain the service medal other than a person must simply be a member of the armed forces.

Campaign medal

Campaign medal
Campaign medal
A campaign medal is a military decoration which is awarded to a member of the military who serves in a designated military operation or performs duty in a geographical theater...

s are similar to service medals (and are sometimes even referred to as service medals), however the main difference is that a campaign medal is awarded to a military member who participates in a military operation whereas a service medal is blanket awarded to everyone in the military regardless of campaign credit.


An example of a service medal currently issued by the United States armed forces
United States armed forces
The United States Armed Forces are the military forces of the United States. They consist of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, and Coast Guard.The United States has a strong tradition of civilian control of the military...

 is the National Defense Service Medal
National Defense Service Medal
The National Defense Service Medal is a military service medal of the United States military originally commissioned by President Dwight D. Eisenhower...

 which is presently automatically awarded to a service member upon their first day of Active Duty. The Global War on Terrorism Service Medal
Global War on Terrorism Service Medal
The Global War on Terrorism Service Medal is a military award of the United States military which was created by Executive Order 13289 of President George W. Bush on March 12, 2003...

 is another decoration which is presently awarded to any active duty member of the United States military (who has served after the September 11 attacks) after 30 consecutive days of service at a permanent duty station.
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