Awarded to both officers and enlisted personnel, the Armed Forces Reserve medal is earned by any current or former service member in the U.S. Armed Forces Reserve or National Guard who has ten years of honorable and satisfactory service. Cumulative service is eligible as long as the decade of service is performed within twelve consecutive years.
The medal can be earned two different ways, and the designation is represented by pins on the medal's suspension ribbon. The Hourglass symbol represents length of service, with the metal denoting the number of years: bronze (ten), silver (twenty), gold (thirty), or bronze plus gold (forty). If a mobilization is part of a member's service, it is denoted with a bronze "M" device, and subsequent mobilizations are denoted with the corresponding number, usually referred to as the "award numeral." Call-ups under a single executive order, such as Desert Shield and Desert Storm, are grouped under one number.
The Armed Forces Reserve medal is a 1 1/4-inch bronze medallion with a flaming torch superimposed on a crossed powder horn and bugle. The torch represents liberty; the powder horn, defense; and the bugle, a call to duty. They are enclosed in a circle comprised of thirteen stars and thirteen rays. A different design for each branch of the Armed Services is on the back of the medal, although every design is inscribed with "Armed Services Reserve" around the edge.
The medal hangs from a ribbon featuring alternating stripes (in differing widths) of Bluebird and Chamois.