a. Authorization. E.O. 11965 of 19 January 1977.
b. Humanitarian Service Medal Eligibility Requirements
(1) The Humanitarian Service Medal (HSM) is awarded to
members of the Armed Forces of the United States who, subsequent
to 1 April 1975, distinguish themselves as individuals or as
members of U.S. military units by meritorious, direct, non-
routine participation in a significant military act or operation
of a humanitarian nature.
(2) In general, an act or operation must be a direct
humanitarian performance by the individuals or unit, at the
' designated location. The following types of military acts or
operations may qualify for award of the Humanitarian Service Medal (HSM):
(a) Significant assistance in the event of national
or international disasters, natural or man-made, such as (but
not limited to) earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, typhoons, or
(b) Relief to a starvation area.
(c) Evacuation of personnel from an area threatened
by a hostile force.
(d) Support or resettlement of refugees or evacuees.
(e) Acts or operations of a similar nature, as
determined by the awarding authority.
(f) Other significant military activities directly
related to humanitarian service, as designated in military regulations. These must be above and beyond routine actions.
(3) Services rendered in the act or operation being
considered must meet each of the following criteria:
(a) Be above and beyond normal duties, and of major
(b) Provide immediate relief, relieve human
suffering, and should save lives; property may be a factor.
(c) Must affect the outcome of the situation
(inaction would have produced definite negative consequences).
(d) Specific dates must be defined, and must be
restricted to the period of "immediate relief." Periods beyond
immediate relief are considered to be established, ongoing
operations beyond the initial emergency conditions, and these
periods are no longer eligible for the Humanitarian Service Medal (HSM), but may be
considered for award of the Armed Forces Service Medal (AFSM).
(4) The emergency assistance must be either:
(a) Requested by the President of the United
States for assistance within the United States (such as
Presidential Emergency Declaration or established contingency
plans issued under Presidential authority); or
(b) Requested by the Department of State for overseas
(1) Direct participation is defined as being physically
present at the designated location, and directly influencing and
contributing to the action.
(2) Designated location is the immediate site(s) of the
humanitarian operations, as defined by the Presidential or
Department of State request for assistance. When appropriate,
the local commander may recommend specific clarification of
designated boundaries based on the intent of the Presidential or
Department of State request.
(1) Service members or elements who remain at
geographically separate locations, or who were assigned to the
designated location, but did directly influence or contribute to
the action, are ineligible for the Humanitarian Service Medal (HSM).
(2) The Humanitarian Service Medal (HSM) shall not be awarded for services rendered
in domestic disturbances involving law enforcement,
demonstrations, or protection of property.
(3) The Humanitarian Service Medal (HSM) shall not be awarded for military acts
or operations of a routine, day-to-day nature. For example,
normal Search and Rescue (SAR) operations conducted by specially
trained SAR units are not eligible for the Humanitarian Service Medal (HSM). Other routine
operations such as helicopter or destroyer plane guard duty, or
emergency transportation of civilian or military medical
patients are also ineligible. Similarly, in accordance with the
laws and traditions of the seas, the rescue of stricken vessels
by naval units would not normally be an eligible action unless
there was extreme danger to those being rescued and those
performing the rescue.
(4) No service member shall be entitled to more than one
award of the Humanitarian Service Medal (HSM) for participation in the same military act or
(5) Except for the Armed Forces Service Medal (AFSM), as discussed in the previous
article, award of the Humanitarian Service Medal (HSM) does not preclude receipt of other
awards based on unit achievement or individual valor,
achievement, or meritorious service.
e. Awarding Authorities. The Chairman, Joint Chiefs of
Staff is the awarding authority for all operations under the
auspices of a Combatant Commander. Effective 14 June 1993,
SECNAV was delegated awarding authority for other operations
involving Naval personnel.
f. Preparation of Recommendations. Recommendations must be
entered administratively into command channels within two years
of the act or operation to be recognized. Recommendation
packages must include the following:
(1) A written justification specifically addressing the
eligibility requirements, and fully explaining and attesting to the humanitarian aspects of the services rendered by personnel
in the act or operation being recommended. It should be noted
the HSM is an individual award.
(2) A listing of ships or units that participated
directly in the act or operation, including dates of involvement
and locations. This is to facilitate the processing and
documentation of awards only, and does not imply unit-wide
approval of the Humanitarian Service Medal (HSM).
(3) For Navy units, an electronic alphabetical listing
service members (preferably in Excel), detailing full name,
rank/rate, social security number, branch of Service, and
permanent unit at the time of the act or operation. This
listing shall be marked "Privacy Sensitiven and include only
those service members who meet the eligibility criteria and
guidelines in this section. Listings of eligible of Marine
Corps personnel shall be submitted using the format delineated
(4) Concurrence by the Military Departments concerned
when multi-Service participation is involved. The originating activity shall, prior to submission of the recommendation to
SECNAV, obtain the concurrence of the Services concerned,
including the Commandant, U.S. Coast Guard when members of the
U.S. Coast Guard are involved. Such concurrence shall include
verification of their service members' participation, and a
specific recommendation for approval or disapproval.
(5) Forwarding endorsements that make specific
recommendations for approval or disapproval to the Chairman,
Joint Chiefs of Staff or SECNAV, as appropriate.
(6) Endorsement of the Combatant Commander who has
authority and/or responsibility for the affected area outside
the Continental United States.
(7) Documentation of the Presidential or the Department
of State request for assistance.
Authorized Devices: Bronze Star, Silver Star