1. Description: The medal is one and one-half inches in diameter overall, consisting of a circular wreath of laurel tied with a ribbon at the base; in the center is a pentagon shape, superimposed over the pentagon is an American eagle with wings upraised and overlapping the wreath, standing on the bottom edge of the pentagon. On the reverse the medal has the inscription, "Defense Meritorious Service" in three horizontal lines; and around the bottom are the words, "United States of America," with space between for engraving the recipient's name.

2. Criteria: The Defense Meritorious Service Medal is awarded to those members of the United States Armed Forces who have distinguished themselves by meritorious service or achievement while assigned to a joint activity. The DMSM is usually awarded to those serving in leadership positions and performing exceptionally outstanding work.

3. Background:

   a. This is the third highest peacetime Defense award.   

   b. Designed by Mildred Orloff and sculpted by Lewis J. King, Jr., both of the Institute of Heraldry.

   c. The Defense Meritorious Service Medal was established by Executive Order 12019 on November 3, 1977, when President Carter signed the order establishing it..