Overseas Service Bars are worn on the right sleeve of the coat of the Army Service Uniform / Dress Uniform. For enlisted personnel, the first Overseas Service Bar is sewn parallel to and four inches from the bottom of the sleeve, while officers have their first Overseas Service Bar a quarter-inch above the sleeve braid (also parallel to the bottom of the sleeve). An Overseas Service Bar is awarded for each six cumulative months of overseas service in a specifically designated areas; if you need more than one bar, we will cut them in one set to ensure they are perfectly sewn onto your uniform.

The 2017 edition of AR 670-1 lists sixteen such areas and/or operations that qualify personnel for the Overseas Service Bar, beginning with “Outside CONUS, between 7 December 1941 and 2 September 1946” and ending with the most recent addition, Operation Freedom’s Sentinel beginning in January 2015. Because of the fluid nature of the operations conducted in the Global War on Terror since 2001, regulations regarding which areas qualify for the Overseas Service Bar refer not to geographic locations or boundaries, but rather to participation in a given operation in an area of operations controlled by a Combatant Commander such as CENTCOM. Note that qualifying time is calculated cumulatively, so periods of less than six months spent in a qualifying area can be combined to reach the six-months minimum.

Overseas Service Bars were originally introduced during World War I as Overseas Chevrons, and the initial intention was to award them only to those soldiers who had served at or very near to the front lines, called the “Zone of the Advance.” But after complaints from officers and enlisted personnel that such a definition was a very narrow interpretation of “overseas service,” the American Expeditionary Forces changed the parameters so that all soldiers who had served in the AEF’s “Theater of Operations”—i.e., all territory under the command of General John J. Pershing—would be awarded the gold chevrons.

The award was redesignated the Overseas Bar during World War II, and in 1953 was given its current title of Overseas Service Bar, with regulations switching the placement from the left sleeve to the right. The bar comes in two sizes, with the size worn dependent on the size of the service rank and service stripes being worn (i.e., large bars are worn with large insignia).

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