Changes announced to Service Medals



As part of Strong, Secure, Engaged, (SSE 7), the Government of Canada is modernizing the Canadian Armed Forces Honours and Awards system to ensure military members’ service to Canada is recognized in a timelier and appropriate manner.

This initiative encompasses the modernization of the overseas service recognition framework. The objective is to make service medals more accessible and flexible to ensure that Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) members receive appropriate recognition for their participation in, and direct support to, operations.

As part of this initiative, changes to the eligibility list for the Special Service Medal with NATO bar, and a reduction of the time criteria to 45 days for both the NATO and Expedition bars to that same medal, were announced on Feb. 18, 2018, in CANFORGEN 001/20.

The government has now recently approved a number of additional measures to meet the stated intent. The time criteria for the General Campaign Star (GCS), General Service Medal (GSM) and Operational Service Medal (OSM) have been reduced to ensure recognition remains attainable to participants in light of new deployment patterns where CAF members more often deploy for short periods of time.

Each ribbon for those medals has a new time criteria beginning with an appropriate recent (post-Afghanistan) operational date as per the table to the right. There are transition measures that ensure anyone who serves at least one eligible day after the stated date is allowed to cumulate any previously accrued time towards the new criteria for the medal.

The criteria for the rotation bars will not be affected by these changes meaning that the first bar will continue to be awarded after a total of 210 eligible days while subsequent bars are awarded for every period of 180 eligible days thereafter.

The Special Service Medal, which had up to now been reserved for CAF members, has been amended to expand eligibility to Canadian civilians and members of allied forces working for the CAF from April 29, 2014. The intention is to align this medal with other modern service medals that allow recognition of all members of the Defence Team who play a key role in the success of our operations.

The limitations for visits in theatre have been reduced. As a result, technical assistance visits, staff inspection visits, staff assistance visits and specialists visits in theatre will now be credited towards the appropriate service medal. Visits for the purpose of command, familiarization, leadership and morale remain excluded from eligibility.

These changes will ensure that recognition is keeping pace with the evolving nature of current and future CAF operations and remains a worthy and attainable reward for personnel while preserving the symbolic value and respect for the service medals in question.

Please refer to CANFORGEN 001/20 or to the Canadian Medals Chart for more information:


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  1. Bart says:


    We as veterans would probably have better luck asking on the feasibility of having a Dom Ops bar created for the SSM. Looking at that list, I’d qualify for about five of those ops and a couple that aren’t on the list. I think it will take talking to your MP about asking about the new bill number, as Bill C-231 is now a bill addressing the Pension Plan Investment Board Act from two years ago.

  2. Paul says:

    Why not pass Bill C-231 An Act respecting the establishment and award of a Special Service Medal for Domestic Emergency Relief Operations. This would allow those who risk their lives on domestic operation to get a little recognition for their efforts.

  3. Vince Martin says:

    Why not reduce the time requirement for the CD to 3 years, the initial enrollment period?

  4. Vince Martin says:

    Dave Hamilton…how about 1989, the year I got out?

    Garey Gabriel….the Special Service Medal with NATO Bar, is the only medal for serving in (West) Germany.

  5. Dave Hamilton says:

    Why not reduce the time for the CD from 12 years to 10, and make it retroactive to 1990?

  6. Is there a NATO medal to personnel who were posted to Germany for a 4 year tour?

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