Commandant of the United States Coast Guard Willard J. Smith approved the Coast Guard Achievement Medal (CGAM) on June 11, 1968. Open to anyone (including foreign military personnel) serving in any capacity with the U.S. Coast Guard, the award is designed to acknowledge professional and/or leadership achievements that are of such a superior and distinguishing nature that they warrant higher noticeable recognition than that afforded by a Commandant’s Letter of Commendation Ribbon, but are not sufficient to warrant the Coast Guard Commendation Medal. These achievements may be earned in both combat and non-combat situation, and are based on either sustained, outstanding performance a specific achievement of an undisputedly superlative nature.
Specific guidelines for professional and leadership achievements are found in COMDTINST M1650.25E, Coast Guard Military Medals and Awards Manual. For a professional achievement to be deemed worthy of the CGAM, it must obviously exceed normal expectations and duty requirements in light of the candidate’ rank or rate and training or experience; it must also be an contribution that is of benefit to both the Coast Guard and the United States. Leadership achievements reflected over a sustained period must also be noteworthy, while single achievements must be of such a meritorious nature as to deserve singular praise and attention while reflecting positively on the candidate’s efforts in accomplishing a mission.
Authorized devices for the CGAM the Valor device (the “V”), the Operational Distinguishing Device, and Large Stars for subsequent instances of receiving the award.