The Global War on Terrorism Service medal was established in 2003 and is awarded to those whose military service is recognized from September 11, 2001 until a date yet to be determined.
The Department of Defense has authorized seven operation periods to date that serve as criteria periods: Airport Security Operations, September 27, 2001-May 31, 2002; Noble Eagle, September 11, 2001-to be determined (TBD); Enduring Freedom, September 11, 2001-TBD; Iraqi Freedom, March 19, 2003-August 31, 2010; New Dawn, September 1, 2010-December 31, 2011; Inherent Resolve, June 15, 2014-TBD; and Freedom's Sentinel, January 1, 2015-TBD. The Coast Guard uses some different operations for its recipients, such as Liberty Shield and Neptune Shield.
Armed Forces members during these periods must serve either thirty consecutive or sixty non-consecutive days of duty. The time requirements are waived for those engaged in combat, wounded while in the line of duty, or killed in action.
Since deployment is not a criteria, the medal is awarded not only for direct participation in the designated operations, but also for support duty in an operation, specified as any administrative, logistics, operational, planning, readiness, or technical activity -- in other words, to most members of the military serving from September 11, 2001 through March 2004 and many more until a closing date is eventually set.
The Global War on Terrorism Service medal is a bronze disc 1.25 inches in diameter. On the front is an eagle with outspread wings holding an olive branch (symbolizing peace) in its right talon, three arrows (war) in its left, and a shield of thirteen stripes on its chest. The eagle is superimposed on a globe and "War on Terrorism Service Medal" curves across the top. A laurel wreath on a plain field is shown on the back. The medal hangs on a wide ribbon of Old Glory blue with stripes of golden yellow (symbolizing excellence), scarlet, and white.
Military personnel can receive both the Global War on Terrorism Service and the Expeditionary
medals, but the qualifying period for one can't justify eligibility for the other, and both medals can't be given for participation in the same operation.