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Medal Recognizes Military Volunteers

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 19, 1999 – Military volunteers often perform many hours of service to their communities and the military wants to recognize their efforts.

The Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal honors members' community service, said Army Maj. Bob S. Stone, deputy director outreach programs in DoD's reserve affairs office. The medal came into being in 1991 as a result of President Bush's "Thousand Points of Light" campaign to encourage volunteerism.

Stone said the medal recognizes the countless hours military members put in helping their communities. "We have an Air National Guard unit in Virginia that has worked for years helping support the Special Olympics," he said. "This medal gives the individuals involved in the effort some recognition."

Another example is at Fort Hood, Texas. "Fort Hood soldiers have been working very closely with schools in the surrounding communities in tutoring, setting up model schools, getting equipment and so on," Stone said. "The medal gives them some official recognition for their efforts."

Still another case in Florida involves an officer who sponsored a program to collect and repair computers for use in local elementary schools.

All service members are eligible for the award, but most know nothing of it, Stone said. "The approving authority is at the [colonel/captain] level," he said. "That makes it very hard to track." DoD has no estimate of how many medals have been awarded.

The medal can only be earned through "sustained" community service, Stone added. "You don't get it for coaching a soccer team for one season, but you could qualify if you work with youth groups for a number of years," he said.

The award is not for duties service members perform as part of their jobs. "This award recognizes the effort you put in to your community, not your unit," Stone said. "You get this award for things you do during your off-duty hours."

Each service handles award criteria differently: in Army Regulation 600-8-22, section 7, paragraph 224-5; in Secretary of the Navy instruction 1650.7; and in Air Force Instruction 36-2803.

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