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This decoration, established by the Department of Defense on June 25, 1963, is awarded by the office of the Secretary of Defense, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and other Department of Defense agencies or joint activities reporting through the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Any member of the Armed Forces who distinguishes himself by meritorious achievement or service while serving in any specified activity after Jan. 1, 1965, is eligible for this award. However, it will not be awarded for any period of service for which any of the Commendation Medals of the branches of the Armed Forces are given.
The medal (pictured above) consists of four conjoined hexagons of green enamel. Centered on this is an eagle in gold with outspread wings, grasping three arrows in its talons (as depicted on the seal of the Department of Defense). Above the eagle are 13 gold stars, and at the base is a gold stylized heraldic delineation representing land, sea, and air. This design is enclosed by a circular wreath of laurel bound with bands, also in gold. The reverse has a tablet in the center, suitable for engraving, and the words “For Military Merit.” At the bottom is a sprig of laurel.
The ribbon has a center stripe of laurel green, on either side of which are stripes of white, green, and white, and at the edges wide stripes of light blue.