The Medal may be awarded to a member, or former member, of the HM Forces who after 3rd September 1945 has given qualifying service that is efficient service:
(a) by completing an initial enlistment period (National Service Qualifies); or
(b) for a period of not less than 4 years service; or
(c) for periods that total not less than 4 years; or
(d) for a period or periods that total less than 4 years, being service that the member was unable to continue for one or more of the following reasons:
(i) the death of the member during service;
(ii) the discharge of the member as medically unfit due to a compensable impairment;
(iii) the discharge of the member due to a prevailing discriminatory Defence policy, as determined by the Chief of Defence Staff or Ministry of Defence.
4 years service is currently arbitrary, though Her Majesty The Queen has already approved as Queen of Australia for the Australian Defence Medal (ADM).
Initial enlistment period covers whatever was contractual at any particular era. For example it was 2 years for National Servicemen, later it was a minimum 3 years etc.
We have recently undertaken analysis on the standardisation of Service Medal qualification criteria. As part of this exercise we have discussed the current situation and options with Members of Parliament, Veteran Organisations, Serving Members of HM Forces, an MOD official and members of the general public. We have endeavoured to take an unbiased and fair view.
There is a raging debate on current medal issue fairness relating to Service not Campaign medals. The arguments tend to focus on the proliferation of unofficial commemoratives sometimes referred to as ‘Bling’, National Service recognition, National Defence medal, Jubilee medal qualification and the disparity of Long Service awards between regular and reserve forces.
There is a significant body of support particularly in the veteran community to see change. However it is also true to say that although feelings run high there is limited belief that any change will be achieved. I’m afraid this apathy towards the decision makers and politicians is not confined to this debate.
Having said that, we believe if a reasoned argument is presented, there are still enough individuals who will recognise an improvement and drive it forward. This is the context this document is presented.
The Government states the nation’s awards should be inclusive. It is also actively seeking its military veterans are properly valued and recognised for their contribution to the nations security. Medals whether we like it or not play a role, and there appears to be plenty of room for improvement and standardisation. Areas to review:
1. Length of service to qualify
Reserve, Cadet and Regular forces have different medal qualification periods. The reasons for this are not entirely clear. The MOD stated that 10 years for the VRSM was the right balance to act as an incentive for part time servicemen and 15 was reasonable for Regulars (Though Officers have no equivalent award). But this is simplistic, the VRSM recognises that often (not always) the Volunteer is holding down another full time job, thereby giving up valuable free time. As any regular will testify the number of weekends they work due to duties, exercise, operations etc adds up to well exceed the bounty gaining attendance. Cadet forces hit the middle ground.
2. Qualification Criteria
The VRSM recognises ‘efficient service’; there is no equivalent for regular forces. The regular must strive for ‘good conduct’; there are numerous reasons why an ‘efficient’ serviceman may not qualify for an LSGC. What of an good conduct and efficient service for 10 years? But it is still not good enough. The CFM merely states recognition of long service of proved capacity in the Cadet Forces, long in this case is more than a reservist but less then a regular. There is some overlap in each case but there is obvious scope for some alignment.
3. Cross area standardisation
The research revealed a general consensus that uniformity to avoid argument or claim of unfairness is desirable. Resentment has resulted from official recognition bestowed on some but not others even if they have served for longer and in many cases more demanding roles.
4. Medal design
The significance of the medal shape is important. Immediately one can see that an oval shape indicates a territorial/reservist. This could play a significant part if medals are standardised specifically for efficient service or long service and good conduct. This could also be reinforced by the use of a suitably named clasp or ribbon colour.
5. Cost implication
Having checked the cost of instigating new medals (Bigbury Mint) it is not excessive. Furthermore in terms of design, ribbon and Shape the blocks already exist. This indicates insignificant additional costs to implement a change.
Make a volunteer efficiency medal available to all HM Armed Forces. Remove the reserve reference.
Disassociate the link to long service and link it to completing an initial enlistment period.
Differentiate between reserve and regular service using the shape of the medal.
Make the long service and good conduct medal available to all HM Armed Forces and Cadet permanent staff. Remove the regular only link.
Make the qualification period 10, 12 or 15 years for all to qualify. 12 seems a reasonable middle ground.
Differentiate between Regular and Non-Regular Service using the shape of the medal.
Change the Ribbon to denote, Reserve or Cadet, possibly a clasp also.
End the current CFM and use the Cadet LSGC replacement.
The good conduct element is particularly important when working with children and young adults.
Cadet Forces would have an Oval shape medal.
Keep current Ribbon to denote Cadet, possibly a clasp also.
The suggestion is to strike a medal to mark this significant event in the nation’s history.
Use similar qualification criteria to that of the QGJM but with the following changes:
· Present only to those who have not previously been awarded with a Coronation, Silver or Golden Jubilee medal.
· Include living veterans as well as serving personal who have served the qualification period during Her Majesty’s reign.
The table illustrates the current and proposed changes with standardisation
For efficient service*
For long service and good conduct**
For long service of proved capacity
All & Veterans
* This is closely aligned to the current campaign for a National Defence Medal (NDM) but uses a current medal in a different way. It could also be compared to the Australian Defence Medal (ADM).
** Service personnel who joined at as young as 15 can have up to 3 years extra service which didn’t count towards medal qualification. Junior level entrants play apart in national defence with roles defending key installations, consideration should be given to allow this time to count. This does not imply a change to pension rules.
Winston Churchill once said “a medal glitters but it also casts a shadow” how very true. But we must also recognise that Her Majesty the Queen whom we swear allegiance, has already endorsed an efficiency medal for Regular Australian Forces, and it already exists for reservists. The rest of the proposals are to standardise what appears to be a rather disparate set of qualification criteria.
Until there is a fair and visibly equal recognition awards system then there will continue to be several ongoing lobby’s which will strive to highlight and change anomalies in the system. We are convinced these proposals will stand up to scrutiny if properly presented.
United Kingdom Regular Forces Personnel deserve their service to be recognised as equals to reserve or cadet personnel. We hope you will give this serious consideration.
Des Browne MP BROWNED@parliament.uk
Quentin Davies MP DAVIESQ@parliament.uk
Don Touhig MP TOUHIGD@parliament.uk
The Military Covenant Commission MURRISONA@parliament.uk
Liam Fox MP DOUGLASI@parliament.uk
Robert Key MP KEYR@parliament.uk
Nick Harvey MP HARVEYN@parliament.uk
Denis Brennan Denis.Brennan@cabinet-office.x.gsi.gov.uk
Veterans Conference Delegates