Monday, March 5, 2012

Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal

First, a good picture of it is here:

Now, the 1650.1H says this about it:

The Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal (MOVSM) may be awarded to members of the
Armed Forces of the United States who, after 31 December 1992, perform outstanding volunteer community service of a sustained, direct and consequential nature. To be eligible, an
individual's service must:

(1) Be to the civilian community, including the military family community;
(2) Be significant in nature and produce tangible results;
(3) Reflect favorably on the Military Service and the Department of Defense; and
(4) Be of a sustained and direct nature.

The manual goes on to say a few things:
- It's intended for sustained support. So, volunteering once or twice for something, no matter how great it is, doesn't count. The 1650 references 3 years, however, it is not declarative. Most commands look for 1-2 years of sustained volunteering.
- It's civilian and must produce results. Going to meetings doesn't count. This isn't for the kind of folks that joined 35 clubs in high school so they could pad their application to college.
- You can only get one per tour of duty, which lends more credence to the 1-2 year length, since not everyone gets 3 year orders.

A commanding officer that has Navy and Marine Corp Achievement Medal (NAM) awarding authority can award a MOVSM. You do need to fill out a 1650/3 (and send a copy to Navy Personnel Command), but there is no certificate to print out. Most commands will ask for a letter from the organization that you volunteered at, to include the number of hours/days you volunteered, what you did, and if they (the organization) would recommend you for the award. It makes sense to keep track of your time spent volunteering right from the start, so you don't have to recreate it later.

Now, although I realize that the whole point of volunteering is that it is free and you don't get recognized, I'm lenient on this one. Navy leadership seems to go ga-ga over volunteering, especially when it comes to sailor's evaluations. Personally, I could care less about what you do with your free time; I evaluate you based on your work performance and how much trouble you do/don't cause me. That all being said, since many of your people are working hard at home to make the world a better place, you can take care of them by putting one more thing on their record to make sure they have a higher chance of promoting later on.


  1. In my time at Corry Station, we had large numbers of Sailors who thought they were volunteers for Habitat for Humanity. They weren't "volunteering" during their off duty time, they were "volunteering" during the duty day. The Navy was paying for their "volunteer" time. I have had many Sailors insist they were eligible for the award and put themselves in for it. I pretty much stand alone in my thinking on this, but the real volunteers had no interest whatsoever in anyone recognizing their contributions in the volunteer realm.

  2. From the 1650:
    (3) Service recognized by award of the MOVSM shall be of a voluntary nature, not detailed or tasked, nor performed as part of a military mission (for example, a unit project).

    I think "volunteering" during the work day would be canned by this. It's an excuse to not work, rather than truly giving your free time to an organization.

    I'm pretty sure this medal and the Prisoner of War Medal were initially opposed by DoD, and you aren't the only one who thinks that way. If we had to do it all over, I wouldn't recommend the DoD have this medal, just like I wouldn't have a ribbon for an outstanding PRT score.