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Awards Information

Types of Recognition & Awards Criteria

Individual Honor Awards (6) 

There are six individual honor awards for which Corps officers may be nominated:
Distinguished Service Medal (DSM)
Meritorious Service Medal (MSM)
Outstanding Service Medal (OSM)
Commendation Medal (CM)
Achievement Medal (AM)
PHS Citation

Surgeon General Awards (2)

Surgeon General Medal (SGM)
Surgeon General Exemplary Service Medal (SGESM)

Unit Honor Awards (2)

There are two unit awards:
Outstanding Unit Citation (OUC)
Unit Commendation (UC)

Service Awards (11)

Foreign Duty Award (FDA)
Hazardous Duty Award (HDA)
Isolated Hardship Award (Isohar)
Special Assignment Award (SAA)
Crisis Response Service Award (CRSA)
Response Service Award (RSA)
Global Response Service Award (GRASA)
Recruitment Service Ribbon (RSR)
National Emergency Preparedness Award (NEPA)
Bicentennial Unit Commendation (BUC)
Commissioned Corps Training Ribbon (CCTR)

Campaign Medals

Smallpox Eradication Campaign Ribbon (SPEC)

Other Ribbon

Regular Corps Ribbon

Badges and Insignia (9)

Surgeon General Insignia (SGI)
Deputy Surgeon General Insignia (DSGI)
Office-in-Charge Insignia (OICI)
Chief Professional Officer Insignia (CPOI)
Office of the Secretary of HHS Identification Badge (OSIB)
Recruiter Badge (RB)
Associate Recruiter Lead badge (ARLB)
Associate Recruiter Badge (ARB)
Field Medical Readiness Badge (FMRB)

Individual Honor Awards

Distinguished Service Medal (DSM).

This is the highest award granted to a Corps officer. This award is presented in recognition of an exceedingly high level of achievement by an officer who possesses a genuine sense of public service and who has made exceptional contributions to the mission of the Corps. Such achievement may range from the management of a major health program, to an initiative resulting in a major impact on the health of the Nation. The award can also be conferred for an act of heroism resulting in the saving of life or protection of health.

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Meritorious Service Medal (MSM).

This award is the second highest recognition granted to Corps officers for outstanding or meritorious levels of achievement. This award is presented in recognition of:
  • meritorious service of a single, particularly important achievement;
  • a career notable for significant accomplishments in technical or professional fields; or
  • unusually high quality and initiative in leadership. The levels of accomplishment meriting this award may include a highly significant achievement in research, program direction, or program administration; a series of significant contributions; a continuing period of meritorious service; or an exhibition of great courage and heroics in an emergency.
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Outstanding Service Medal (OSM).

The OSM is granted to an officer who has demonstrated continuous outstanding leadership in carrying out the mission of the Corps, performed a single accomplishment that has had a major effect on the health of the Nation, or has performed a heroic act resulting in the preservation of life or health.

The DSM, MSM, and OSM may also be awarded “With Valor,” with a bronze “V” for recognizing acts of courage and bravery. The designation “With Valor” is not to be used to recognize hazardous assignments or exposure to dangerous and life threatening environments. The officer must exhibit a positive and particular act, or actions, of bravery and courage, and/or heroism, in particular those resulting in the saving or preserving of the life or health of others. The degrees of risk to personal safety, the level of bravery, and the demonstration of courage, are determining factors that must be clearly displayed.

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Commendation Medal (CM).

The CM is granted to an officer who has exhibited a level of proficiency and dedication distinctly greater than that expected of an officer. The CM recognizes:
  • sustained high quality achievements in scientific, managerial, or other professional fiel
  • application of unique skill or creative imagination to the approach or solution of problems; or
  • noteworthy technical and professional contributions that are significant to a limited area.
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Achievement Medal (AM).

The AM is granted to an officer for superior efforts or outcomes in accomplishing a program’s mission. This could include recognition of the advancement of program objectives, sustained above-average accomplishment, or superior dedication to duty over a relatively short period of time.

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PHS Citation (CIT).

The CIT is granted to an officer in recognition of a specific and noteworthy achievement, generally for a short period of time. This could include contributions toward accomplishing a program objective or high quality achievement, but at a lesser level than is required for the AM.

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Surgeon General's Awards

Surgeon General’s Medallion (SGM). The SGM is awarded at the sole discretion of the SG to a member of any uniformed service or a civilian for the highest level of contribution to initiatives of the SG. As the award is bestowed at the discretion of the SG, there is no nomination procedure. The OSG administers this award.

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Surgeon General's Exemplary Service Medal (SGESM).

The SGESM is awarded at the sole discretion of the SG, for exemplary contributions of a member of any uniformed service to initiatives of the SG. As the award is bestowed at the discretion of the SG, there is no nomination procedure. The OSG administers this award.

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Unit Awards

Outstanding Unit Citation (OUC).

The OUC is granted to a group of officers who exhibit outstanding contributions toward achieving the goals and objectives of the Corps. To merit this award, the unit must have provided outstanding service, often of national significance.

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Unit Commendation (UC).

The UC is granted to acknowledge significant contributions and achievements well above that normally expected in accomplishing the goals and objectives of the OPDIV/STAFFDIV or non-HHS organizations to which Corps officers are detailed. To merit this award, the unit’s accomplishment is at a lesser level than the OUC, often at the State or regional level of significance. return to top



Service Awards

Foreign Duty Award (FDA).

An officer who has served outside the United States at least 30 consecutive days or 90 non-consecutive days in foreign posts while on temporary or permanent assignment (other than while in training), qualifies for the FDA. Any period of 30 or more consecutive days is not included in the computation of the 90 non-consecutive days.

An officer assigned for 30 or more consecutive days on a ship that transits through international waters with stops in international ports, qualifies for the FDA.

For more information, please reference section 6-3.a and 6-3.b of CC27.1.1.

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Hazardous Duty Award (HDA).

An officer, who served in a position requiring frequent and significant risk to his/her safety, qualifies for this award. For full-time assignments, this incorporates a minimum of 6 months exposure to the risk factors.

The officer's supervisor must certify that the officer has met the designated criterion before forwarding the award nomination through appropriate channels for submission to OCCO. An officer qualifies only once for a particular type of duty. Specific duty assignments that qualify for the HDA include the following:
  • Frequent Light Aircraft Flights.
  • Contact with inmates and/or detainees.
  • Industrial Hygiene Surveys of Mine Sites.
  • Officers who receive hazard duty pay or imminent danger pay
qualify for the HDA. For more information, please reference section 6-3.a and 6-3.b of CC27.1.1.

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Isolated/Hardship Award (ISOHAR).

An officer who has served a minimum of 180 consecutive days in an area designated as isolated, remote, insular, or constituting a hardship duty assignment, qualifies for the ISOHAR. PPM 06-006, “Service Awards - Isolated/Hardship Sites,” lists currently qualifying sites.

For more information, please reference section 6-3.a and 6-3.b of CC27.1.1.

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Special Assignment Award (SAA).

An officer detailed via official personnel orders (as set forth in CC23.5.5, “Intergovernmental Personnel Act,” CC23.5.6, “Detail to Faculty Positions,” CC23.5.7, “Detail to Congressional Committees,” or CC23.5.8, “Detail to Federal Agencies") for a minimum of 30 consecutive days to a special program initiative of a Federal or State Agency, or to other organizations, qualifies for the SAA. An assignment effected via memorandum or other official mechanism as set forth in the above Instructions is eligible, unless the assignment is a routine function of the officer's position, or is specifically included in the officer's billet description.

Qualifying periods do not include the following:
  • Assignments or activities between components of HHS, or details to organizations with which the Corps has a “blanket” detail agreement (e.g., BOP, USCG, EPA, NOAA, National Park Service (NPS), the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USUHS), Native American Governments/Tribal Organizations, and USMS), or
  • Assignments or details, for the purpose of training the officer.
  • Assignments of 30 or more non-consecutive days may be considered for the SAA. In addition to the criteria and restrictions stated in Section 6-3.d. the non-consecutive assignment must be in the same organizational entity, and must be a part of an ongoing activity with a clearly defined objective.
  • Assignments to special initiatives or activities of the Secretary, ASH, and/or SG qualify for this award.
For more information, please reference section 6-3.a and 6-3.b of CC27.1.1.

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Crisis Response Service Award (CRSA).

The CRSA recognizes an officer’s direct participation in a Corps deployment to a designated domestic response. An officer must meet the force readiness standards to be eligible for the CRSA (See Manual Circular 377, “Force Readiness Standards,” PPM 06-004, “Extension of Manual Circular 377”, PPM 07-001, “Extension of Manual Circular 377,” and PPM 07-007, “Extension of PPM 07-001”). An officer may receive only one award of the CRSA for participation in the same crisis response. Officer must participate in a domestic Corps deployment, that is:
  • A natural or man-made disaster that is determined to be a crisis response with eligibility for the CRSA by the SG; and
  • Away from the officer’s regular duty assignment.
  • Officer must be deployed for not less than 7 days.
  • Officer must be deployed in the designated PHS uniform, unless exempted by the SG.
  • For more information, please reference section 6-3.a and 6-3.b of CC27.1.1.
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Response Service Award (RSA).

The RSA recognizes an officer’s direct participation in a Corps deployment to a designated public health need or National Special Security Event. An officer must meet the force readiness standards to be eligible for the RSA  (See Manual Circular 377, “Force Readiness Standards,” PPM 06-004, “Extension of Manual Circular 377”, PPM 07-001, “Extension of Manual Circular 377,” and PPM 07-007, “Extension of PPM 07-001”). An officer may receive only one award of the RSA for participation in the same response.
  • Officer must participate in a Corps deployment that is classified as one of the following:

    • An all-hazards public health emergency as declared by the President or Secretary;
    • An urgent public health need as determined by the Secretary or the ASH; or,
    • A National Special Security Event (e.g., Winter Olympics).

  • To meet this service award criterion the event must:

    • Not be designated as a CRSA or GRSA response; and,
    • Be designated a Corps deployment with eligibility for the RSA by the Secretary, ASH, or SG;

  • Officer must be deployed for not less than 7 days.
  • Officer must be deployed in the designated PHS uniform, unless exempted by the SG.
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Global Response Service Award (GRSA).

The GRSA recognizes an officer’s direct participationin a Corps deployment to a designated non-domestic or international response. An officer must meet the force readiness standards to be eligible for the GRSA  (See Manual Circular 377, “Force Readiness Standards,” PPM 06-004, “Extension of Manual Circular 377”, PPM 07-001, “Extension of Manual Circular 377,” and PPM 07-007, “Extension of PPM 07-001”). An officer may receive only one award of the GRSA for participation in the same response. Officer must participate in a non-domestic Corps deployment that is:
  • A natural or man-made disaster that is determined to be a crisis response with eligibility for the GRSA by the SG;
  • Away from the officer’s regular duty assignment.
  • Officer must be deployed for not less than 7 days.
  • Eligibility for the GRSA is retroactive to 1 October 2004.
  • Officer must be deployed in the designated PHS uniform, unless exempted by the SG.
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Recruitment Service Ribbon (RSR).

The RSR recognizes an officer’s continued service to the ongoing recruitment efforts of the Corps.
  • An officer is eligible for the RSR upon completion of 3 consecutive years:

    • In a billet in which recruitment is a primary duty and responsibility. Duties may include policy development, establishment of goals and strategies, and coordination of recruitment programs and initiatives; or,
    • Of maintaining a current status in the Associate Recruiter Program (ARP) as set forth in CC23.1.6, “Associate Recruiter Program.”

  • An officer may earn an additional award for meeting the criteria in Section 6-3.j.(1) for each additional 3-year period.
  • The RSR is awarded for recruitment service completed after 3 April 2006.
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National Emergency Preparedness Award (NEPA).

This award is no longer issued by USPHS.

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Bicentennial Unit Commendation (BUC).

All Corps officers who served satisfactorily on active duty for any period between 1 January 1998 and 16 July 1999, qualify for the BUC.

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Commissioned Corps Training Ribbon (CCTR).

The CCTR is awarded to officers upon satisfactory completion of both the Officer Basic Course and the Independent Officer Training Course.

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Campaign Medals.

  • Campaign medals recognize a formal Corps operation that has a specific and stated objective. Campaigns are specific Departmental objectives aimed at eradicating specific health crisis or diseases and/or significantly improving the health and well-being of a targeted population.
  • Campaign medals are approved by the ASH.
  • Campaign medals are granted in recognition of an officer’s substantial contribution to an approved campaign for a specific type of service or activity, or for service during a specific time period.
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Smallpox Eradication Campaign Ribbon (SPEC). An officer who has served 90 days or more cumulative service in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Bureau of Smallpox Eradication or Smallpox Laboratory, in the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Smallpox Eradication Program, or in a temporary duty assignment in a smallpox effort abroad, qualifies for the SPEC. The service must have occurred between 1 January 1966 and 26 October 1977

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Other Ribbon

Regular Corps Ribbon.

An officer who has been assimilated into the Regular Corps qualifies for the Regular Corps Ribbon and appointment certificate. For information on requirements and application procedures, see CC23.3.7, “Regular Corps Assimilation Program.”

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Badges and Insignia.

Surgeon General Insignia (SGI). The SGI is a badge of office. Wearing of the SGI is restricted to the SG. An officer permanently assigned as the SG shall wear the SGI. Once an officer has been duly authorized to wear the SGI, he/she may wear the miniature SGI during all subsequent assignments of his/her career as a Corps officer.

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Deputy Surgeon General Insignia (DSGI). The DSGI is a badge of office. Wearing of the DSGI is restricted to the Deputy Surgeon General (DSG). An officer permanently assigned as the DSG shall wear the DSGI. Once an officer has been duly authorized to wear the DSGI, he/she may wear the miniature DSGI during all subsequent assignments of his/her career as a Corps officer

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Officer-In-Charge Insignia (OICI).
  • The OICI identifies a Corps officer who is assigned by personnel orders to the highest level of leadership within the Office of the Secretary; a specific position that is the highest level of authority over an HHS OPDIV; or a specific position in a non-HHS organization for which there is a statutory basis for the relationship, which is the highest level of authority over an organizational component which contains Corps officers. Eligibility for the OICI is restricted to incumbents of the following designated positions, when filled by a Corps officer:

    • Secretary, Deputy Secretary, Chief of Staff, Immediate Office of the Secretary (IOS), HHS;
    • Associate Deputy Secretaries and Heads of OS operational offices, OS, HHS;
    • Assistant Secretaries, Deputy Assistant Secretaries, OS, HHS;
    • Chief officials and deputies in assistant secretarial level STAFFDIVS, OS, HHS;
    • HHS OPDIV Heads;
    • Chief Medical Officer and Director of Health and Safety, USCG; and
    • Medical Director and Assistant Director, Health Services, BOP.

  • Once an officer has been duly authorized to wear the OICI, he/she may wear the miniature OICI during all subsequent assignments of his/her career as an officer. No more than one OICI shall be worn on the uniform, regardless of the number of times an officer may have qualified for the insignia.
  • An officer who occupies an eligible position in an “acting” or temporary capacity is not authorized to wear the OICI.
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Chief Professional Officer Insignia (CPOI). The CPOI is a badge of office. Wearing of the CPOI is restricted to officers who are assigned by personnel orders to be the Chief Professional Officer (CPO) of one of the eleven professional categories. (i.e., Medical, Dental, Nurse, Engineer, Scientist, Environmental Health, Veterinary, Pharmacy, Dietitian, Therapy, and Health Services). An officer who is assigned as an Acting CPO is not authorized to wear the CPOI. Once an officer has been duly authorized to wear the CPOI, he/she may wear the miniature CPOI during all subsequent assignments of his/her career as a Corps officer. Officers on active duty as of the date of this Instruction who previously were assigned as a CPO are authorized to wear the miniature CPOI.

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Office of the Secretary of HHS Identification Badge (OSIB). Officers assigned on a permanent basis to a billet located within any of the organizational components of the OS, HHS, including STAFFDIVs, qualify to wear the OSIB. Authorization to wear this badge is effective with assignments beginning on 22 June 1999 and is not retroactive to any assignment to any element of OS prior to this date.
  • An officer may temporarily wear the badge upon initial assignment to a billet within the OS.
  • Upon completion of one continuous year of duty in a billet within the OS, an officer may permanently wear the badge. Time spent on a detail or temporary duty outside the OS does not count in this computation.
  • An officer detailed or on temporary duty from the OS, to activities located in other OPDIVs or non-HHS organizations located outside the OS, is not eligible to wear this badge during the period of detail or temporary duty, unless he/she has previously met the criteria for permanent authorization.
  • Individuals authorized only for temporary wear of this badge shall return the badge to OCCO upon completion of the tour of duty in the OS.
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Recruiter Badge (RB). An officer who is assigned to a billet in which the primary duties and responsibilities relate to recruitment will wear the RB as recognition of his/her standing as a recruiter. The RB may be worn only while assigned to a recruitment billet.

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Associate Recruiter Lead Badge (ARLB). Upon meeting the eligibility criteria as set forth in CC23.1.6, “Associate Recruiter Program,” to serve as an Associate Recruiter Lead (ARL) and approval by the respective CPO, an ARL will be issued a certificate and corresponding badge to signifying his/her standing as a volunteer in the ARP. The ARLB may be worn only while an individual maintains current status in the ARP in his/her respective role as set forth in CC23.1.6, “Associate Recruiter Program.”

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Associate Recruiter Badge (ARB). Upon meeting the eligibility criteria as set forth in CC23.1.6, “Associate Recruiter Program,” to serve as an Associate Recruiter (AR) and approval by the respective CPO, an AR will be issued a certificate and corresponding badge to signifying his/her standing as a volunteer in the ARP. The ARB may be worn only while an individual maintains current status in the ARP in his/her respective role as set forth in CC23.1.6, “Associate Recruiter Program.”

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Field Medical Readiness Badge (FMRB). The FMRB recognizes officers who have met criteria beyond the required basic force readiness standards. It is awarded on the basis of proven knowledge and skill related to force readiness and performance while engaged in Corps deployment(s). To qualify for the FMRB, an officer must meet the force readiness standards (See Manual Circular 377, “Force Readiness Standards,” PPM 06-004, “Extension of Manual Circular 377”, PPM 07-001, “Extension of Manual Circular 377,” and PPM 07-007, “Extension of PPM 07-001”) in addition to the following eligibility criteria:
  • Physical Readiness Requirement. Must pass the Annual Physical Fitness Test (APFT) Level II as the minimum fitness standard (See Manual Circular 377, “Force Readiness Standards,” and PPM 04-003, “Revisions of Manual Circular 377”).
  • Training Requirement. Complete the compulsory modules Web-based training for FMRB as defined by the SG. These may include required modules from the ‘core’, ‘clinical’ (if applicable), and ‘optional’ curricula of the Web-based OFRD modules. The Web site http://ccrf.hhs.gov/ccrf/training.htm contains the details of the FMRB Web-based training requirements.
  • Deployment Requirement. Participate in one or more Corps deployments consisting of a minimum of 7 days. Deployment days may be accumulated from multiple deployments performed within the last 3 years prior to the date of an officer’s application for the FMRB.
  • Once an officer has been duly authorized to wear the FMRB, he/she may continue to wear the FMRB throughout his/her career as an officer.
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