The subject of eligibility for war zone combat medals and ribbons awarded to veterans of all eras arises on occasion. So, here’s how the Department of Veterans Affairs provides answers for veterans who served overseas and the periods covered.
There are three eligible categories for World War II veterans: European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal (Dec. 7, 1941 to 8 Nov. 8 1945), Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal (Dec. 7, 1941 to March 2, 1946), or the American Campaign Medal (Dec. 7, 1941 to March 2, 1946.)
The American Merchant Marines who were in oceangoing service during the period of armed conflict, are eligible for decoration for their service from Dec. 7, 1941 to Aug. 15, 1945.
Those eligibile for the Korean service Medal must have served some time from June 27, 1950, to July 27, 1954.
Vietnam War veterans are eligible for their service from Feb. 28, 1961, to May 7, 1975.
Eligibility for decorations for other conflicts are as follows: Lebanon — Aug. 25, 1982, to Feb. 26, 1984; Grenada — Oct. 23, 1983, to Nov. 21, 1983; Panama — Dec. 20, 1983, to Jan. 31, 1990; Persian Gulf — continuing from Aug. 2, 1990; Somalia continuing from Sept. 17, 1992; Bosnia — Nov. 20, 1955, to Nov. 1, 2007; Kosovo — continuing from March 24, 1990; Operation Enduring Freedom — continuing from Oct. 7, 2001; Operation Iraqi Freedom — March 19, 2003 to Feb. 17, 2010; and Operation New Dawn — continuing from Feb. 17, 2010.
Other eligible veterans include those who served in the following operations:
Operation Joint Endeavor, Operation Joint Guard and Operation Joint Force — Veterans who participated in one or more of the three successive operations in the former Yugoslavia (Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia, aboard U.S. Naval vessels in the Adriatic Sea, or on the Adriatic Sea, or air spaces above those areas); Veterans who served in Kosovo either in its waters or airspace after March 24, 1999, and before a terminal date yet to be established; and Global War on Terrorism - Veterans who serve or have served in military expeditions to combat terrorism on or after Sept. 11, 2001, and before a terminal date yet to be established. This includes Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom & Operation New Dawn.
I suggest veterans who have served during any of the above time periods contact one of the veteran service officers who work for any of the veterans’ organizations to assist you in your desire to get the medals and ribbons they have rightfully earned.