Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal (MOVSM)

Image of both sides of the MOVSM medal

Authorization: Established by Executive Order 12830, dated 9 January 1993. The E.O. authorizes the medal set consisting of a full-size and mini medal along with a lapel pin in the colors of the award ribbon.

Eligibility Requirements:

(1) General. The MOVSM may be awarded to members of the Armed Forces of the United States and their Reserve Components who, after December 31, 1992, perform outstanding volunteer community service of a sustained, direct and consequential nature.
(2) Specific. To be eligible, an individual’s service must:
(a) be to the civilian community, to include the military family community;
(b) be significant in nature and produce tangible results;
(c) reflect favorably on the Military Service and the Department of Defense; and
(d) be of a sustained and direct nature.


(1) While there is no specific time period to qualify for the MOVSM (for example 500 hours of community service within 24 calendar months), approval authorities shall ensure the service to be honored merits the special recognition afforded by the medal. (Army has no sustained time period; Air Force views the sustained time period to be at least two years; Navy views the sustained time period to be 3 years.)
The MOVSM is intended to recognize exceptional community support over time, not a single act or achievement. Further, it is intended to honor direct support of community activities. For the purpose of this award, attending membership meetings or social events of a community service group is not considered qualifying service, while manning a community crisis action telephone line for a sustained period of time is considered qualifying service.
The overall level of volunteer participation and impact of an individual’s community service is key to determining whether award of the MOVSM is justified.
(2) The MOVSM recognizes service provided to a community over time, therefore multiple awards of the MOVSM during a single tour of duty are not authorized. However, a sustained record of significant community service performed during successive tours may be considered by approval authorities when adjudicating recommendations for subsequent awards of the MOVSM.
(3) Service recognized by award of the MOVSM shall be of a voluntary nature, not detailed or tasked, nor performed as part of a military mission (for example: a unit project). This means unit members or entire units detailed to support a summer camp construction project CAN NOT be used for MOVSM eligibility; however individuals who volunteer to serve at camps MAY use that period as time eligible for the MOVSM.
(4) Although not all encompassing, Appendix A to this policy [not attached] contains samples of organizations which would qualify (both the Boy Scout of America and the Girl Scouts of the USA qualify).
(5) To be awarded a MOVSM, service members must be recommended by anyone senior to them and submitted via their awarding authority. The organization's commander shall certify that the eligibility requirements above have been met and that the service was honorable throughout the award period.

Awarding Authority:


Authorization is delegated to the first Lieutenant Colonel or above in the soldier's chain of command for approval and issuance of this medal. The MOVSM may be awarded posthumously. For Army personnel the DA Form 638 will be the sole acknowledgement of the medal. Neither orders nor award announcement memorandum is authorized to be produced; approval authorities may provide a congratulatory personal letter or “star note” to the Soldier (a "star note" is a congratulatory letter written by a general officer, or civilian equivalent, to a Service member thanking them for going above and beyond the call of duty, written upon stationary featuring the General's flag as shown). Unit personnel specialists are responsible for annotating DA Form 2, the Enlisted or Officer Record Brief with the code “OV”. (Attached) contains a sample completed form ( front back)

Air Force:

On 2 July 1996, the Secretary of the Air Force approved realigning the Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal approval authority to the group commander level. This includes commanders of composite and provisional groups and (colonel) commanders of geographically separated units. This authority may not be further delegated. The MOVSM may be awarded posthumously.

Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard:

Authority to award the MOVSM is delegated to those officers who have authority to award the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal or Joint Service Achievement Medal and above. The MOVSM may be awarded posthumously. For Navy personnel a letter of authorization will be issued by the awarding authority to include the period recognized. (Attached) contains a sample format. For Navy personnel, copies of the approved OPNAV 1650/3 will be forwarded to the BUPERS (PERS- 313C); for Marine Corps personnel copies will be forwarded to CMC (MMMA).

Precedent and Subsequent Award:

The MOVSM will be worn immediately after the Humanitarian Service Medal. Subsequent awards will be denoted by 3/16-inch bronze stars attached to the ribbon for the second through fifth award. A 3/16-inch silver star attached to the ribbon will be worn in lieu of the sixth award.

No citation or certificate will be issued with the MOVSM; the approved nomination form is the sole verification/recognition of this award.

(An organization under the "umbrella" of something called the "American War Library" sells a certificate for the MOVSM; it is UNAUTHORIZED and I strongly recommend you not send any information, to include Social Security numbers or other military data to them. Here is a example of one version of their fake certificates. The MOVSM is a "service medal" and there NO official certificate issued through any of the Services for service medals.)

How do we submit the person and paperwork for the “Community Organization knot?”

Image of BSA Community Organization knot insignia

The Community Organization Award is no longer awarded with a certificate from the BSA's Relationships Service. For uniform wear, a special square knot insignia item (shown left) is provided for presentation. THE KNOT IS NOT THE AWARD; the APPROVED NOMINATION FORM from the armed service serves as the official award.

Here’s the process in summary:

1 - The Scouting unit or individual recommends and with assistance from the services’ personnel office, fills out and signs the appropriate recommendation form.

2 - The commander approves and presents the MOVSM at an appropriate MILITARY ceremony (it is a MILITARY award, NOT something which should be presented at a Scouting or community event).

3 – The personnel office sends a copy of the approved recommendation form for records posting and provides a paper and/or electronic copy for the servicemember.

4 – The SERVICEMEMBER provides a copy of the approved recommendation form to the Council Scout Executive of the local BSA Council.

5 – The Council Scout Executive submits the approved recommendation along with a memorandum recommending that the Community Organization Award be granted to the individual Scouter to the BSA Relationships Division. The memorandum acknowledges that the Scouter is a currently registered member of the Boy Scouts of America and that his service to the local Council and/or individual Scouting unit(s) has been of a good nature.

6 – The local Council makes presentation of the Award to the Scouter or forwards the square knot insignia items to the unit for presentation to the Scouter.

The BSA’s Relationships Division is fully aware of the various versions of the military award recommendation forms and WILL NOT accept memorandums, letters nor statements from commanders. Since the BSA bases their award of the Community Organization Award upon the award of the MOVSM, the MOVSM MUST BE AWARDED PRIOR TO LOCAL COUNCIL SUBMISSION.

To assist recipients of the MOVSM and to get around the Department of Defense's policy, some units also present unit coins or special insignia patches along with a certificate recognizing the MOVSM service to Scouters. There is a move within the Department of Defense to request an exception to the "service medal" policy and to create a special official certificate for the MOVSM; as of the date of this page's creation it has not been approved.

(An organization under the "umbrella" of something called the "American War Library" sells a certificate for the MOVSM; it is UNAUTHORIZED and I strongly recommend you not send any information, to include Social Security numbers or other military data to them. Here is a example of one version of their fake certificates. The BSA does not need a certificate -- they rely only on the recommendation form from the services as listed above. Remember, the MOVSM is a "service medal" and there is NO official certificate issued through any of the Services presently for the medal.)

Regardless of the number of MOVSMs an individual service member has received, ONLY ONE square knot emblem representing the Award will be worn. No devices or numbers will be attached to the square knot insignia and the MOVSM tie-tac will not be attached to the square knot insignia.

The Boy Scouts of America does not permit the wearing of the MOVSM or the ribbon (nor any military medal or ribbon) on their official uniforms and it is for this reason that the MOVSM should not be awarded during a Scouting event or activity.

Again, the Community Organization Award square knot insignia is NOT THE AWARD; the actual award is a signed/approved nomination form by military officials. The square knot emblem REPRESENTS the fact that the Scouter has received the Community Organization Award – NOT the MOVSM specifically.

page updated 24 May 2015