Recently, the Defense Department approved award of the Armed Forces Service Medal and Humanitarian Service Medal to recognize service members for their qualifying participation in COVID-19 operations or activities. Both Active and Reserve Component members are eligible for such recognition.
The period of award for both medals is from Jan.31, 2020, to a future “to be determined” termination date. Given the global nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, there is no designated ‘area of eligibility’; rather, award authorities determine eligibility based on the nature of the member’s participation in qualifying DoD COVID-19 operations and activities.
Military Department Secretaries determine eligibility for award to service members in his or her respective Military Department based on DoD award criteria. The Chief of the National Guard Bureau determines eligibility for National Guard members who do not fall under the purview of a Secretary of a Military Department.
Service members are not eligible for both medals based on the same activities, deployment, or period of service. Due to the global nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, as an exception, the Armed Forces Service Medal is authorized for award for 30 consecutive or non-consecutive days of qualifying service.
Additionally, the Armed Forces Service Medal deployment requirement is waived for non-deployed service members, provided the members were re-assigned from their normal duties to primarily perform duties related to DoD COVID-19 operations or activities for 30 consecutive or non-consecutive days.
Due to the health risk posed by COVID-19, award of the Armed Forces Service Medal is authorized for one day of qualifying service if that service resulted in the member contracting the virus. (Note: Similar waivers are not required for the Humanitarian Service Medal because award criteria do not include a deployment requirement or a minimum period of qualifying service for award.)
More details can be found in the related memo here.