Special Service Medal (Canada)

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Special Service Medal
Special Service Medal.jpg
Special Service Medal showing obverse and reverse
Awarded by the
Canadian Coat of Arms Shield.svg
monarch of Canada
Country Canada
Type Service medal
Eligibility Members of the Canadian Forces
Awarded for Service performed under exceptional circumstances in a clearly defined locality for a specified duration, not necessarily in a theatre of active operation.
Status Currently awarded
Clasps Pakistan 1989-90
Post-nominals None
Established 16 June 1984
Total awarded 78,273[1]
Next (higher) Operational Service Medal (Canada)
Next (lower) Canadian Peacekeeping Service Medal
Special Service Medal Ribbon.png
Ribbon bar of the medal

The Special Service Medal (French: Médaille du service spécial) is a service medal awarded to members of the Canadian Forces. The medal was established by letters patent by Queen Elizabeth II on 16 June 1984. Recipients of this medal must have performed, "service under exceptional circumstances in a specifically defined location for an established period of time, but need not be in a theatre of active operations".[2] The medal is always issued with a bar which specifies the special service which the medal recognizes. Each bar has its own criteria.[1]


The medal is made of copper and zinc alloy and is circular, 36 millimetres (1.4 in) in diameter. The obverse depicts a maple leaf surrounded by a laurel wreath. The reverse contains the inscription "SPECIAL SERVICE SPÉCIAL", curving along the bottom edge of the medal. In the centre is the St Edward's Crown and Royal Cypher. A single-toed claw attaches at the top of the medal suspending it from a straight slotted bar, which hangs from the medal's ribbon.[1]

The ribbon is 32 millimetres (1.3 in) wide. It has a dark green centre stripe flanked by white stripes, with red stripes at the edge. The white and red stripes are the same width.[1]

The bars are sewn to the medal's ribbon. These bars are made of silver coloured metal, with a raised border and the name of the qualifying special service on a pebble textured background.[2]

To indicate additional awards of the medal, upon the ribbon bar, a silver maple leaf is worn to indicate two awards of the medal, gold for three and a red maple leaf for four.[1]


Pakistan 1989-90[edit]

Authorized 6 June 1991 for no less than 90 days of service attached to the United Nations Mine Awareness and Clearance Training Program in Pakistan. The qualifying period of service was from 15 March 1989 and ending on 29 July 1990.[3] As there have been no additional qualifying periods of service, this bar is no longer eligible for award. Those who were awarded this bar may, at their discretion, exchange it for the United Nations Special Service Medal.[1]


Authorized 26 November 1992, the Alert bar recognizes a cumulative 180 days of honourable service posted to CFS Alert. It may also recognize honourable service with a military force deployed on operations to or at CFS Alert, since the beginning of its operation on 1 September 1958 to the present.[4]


Authorized 26 November 1992, the Peace-Paix bar recognizes 180 days of honourable service in peacekeeping operations where Canadian Forces personnel are deployed from Canada in an active capacity with, in conjunction with, or attached to an operational peacekeeping truce supervision team, observer force or similar mission. The period of eligibility begins with peacekeeping operations for the UN Temporary Commission on Korea (UNTCOK) in November 1947 and goes through the UN Mission in Haiti (UNMIH) in 1993. Other eligible peacekeeping operations were service with the International Control Commission, Commonwealth Election Commission Observer Group — Rhodesia/Zimbabwe, European Community Monitoring Mission in Yugoslavia, HMCS Restigouche on Maritime Interdiction Force Operations in the Red Sea, and the Cambodia Mine Action Centre. The medal is awarded with this bar for service that has is not recognized by another award, decoration or medal within the Canadian honours system.[5] Effective 21 June 2001, no additional peacekeeping operations are approved for this bar. Peacekeeping service is now recognized by the Canadian Peacekeeping Service Medal.[1]


Authorized 26 November 1992, the NATO-OTAN bar recognizes 180 days of honourable service with NATO since its establishment on 1 January 1951 through 19 October 2004. Qualifying service is defined as being posted with a NATO unit, or to an allied unit or Canadian Forces unit beyond the territorial borders of Canada serving under the command of a NATO headquarters, or in Canada on a military staff directly participating in the operational control of NATO or allied units for operations or exercises. Those personnel with service within Canada must have directly served in an operations centre. Personnel in eligible postings or on operations on 19 October 2004 were able to count their service through the end of that deployment, posting or operation. Time served in Europe or at sea cannot all apply towards this bar.[6]

For NATO service since 20 October 2004 the same 180 days of cumulative service applies as part of, or in directly supporting NATO operations and missions. Service that can be recognized by a NATO Medal is not eligible.[1] Eligibility is limited to a few specific missions:

  • Service deployed aboard ships serving with the NATO Standing Naval Force Atlantic, previously known as Standing Naval Force Atlantic (STANAVFORLANT), during Operation Sextant on 1 January 2006
  • Canadian aircrew flying surveillance sorties for NATO beyond Canadian airspace.
  • Service with the Canadian Contingent NATO Airborne Early Warning Force, Geilenkirchen, Germany.
  • Service supporting Operation Active Endeavour (Canadian Operation Sirius)
  • Service attached to a NATO Forward Logistics Site (FLS)


Authorized 9 March 1993, the Humanitas bar recognizes a cumulative 30 days of honourable service outside Canada supporting humanitarian operations since 11 June 1984. These operations, such as rescue, relief and reconstruction operations are conducted in response to disasters and human conflict. Service that is recognized by another Canadian honour is not eligible for the Humanitas bar.[7] The Humanitas bar is no longer awarded. Effective 31 July 2009, eligible humanitarian service is now counted towards the HUMANITAS Operational Service Medal.[1]


Authorized 1 October 1999, the Ranger bar recognizes four years of cumulative honourable service with the Canadian Rangers. Rangers provide a military presence in Canada's sparsely settled isolated northern coastal areas. Rangers may perform duties as varied as reporting unusual activity or compiling information specific to their locality which may be useful for military operations. They may also be called upon to provide local expertise, assistance or advice, to guide military search and rescue activities. To be eligible Rangers must also complete at least three Ranger Patrol Exercises.[8]


The Jugoslavija bar was authorized on 9 March 1993 for a minimum of 90 days of honourable service with the European Community Monitor Mission in Yugoslavia (ECMMY). Periods of qualifying service were from 4 September 1991 until the end of the mission. This bar was never issued, instead being superseded by the European Community Monitor Mission Medal.[2]


The Expedition bar was authorized on 21 May 2014 for service dating back to 1 July 2007. Eligible service must have been at least 180 days in length and while deployed in support of an approved operation. This support must have been on a full-time basis and the deployment was temporary in nature, serving in a permanent position is excluded. The service is covered by a Canadian or foreign service medal, it is not creditable towards the Special Service Medal with Expedition bar.[1] The following are approved operations:[9]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Special Service Medal (SSM)". Canadian Honours Chart. Chief Military Personnel National Defence and Canadian Forces. 29 April 2008. Retrieved 2011-09-01. 
  2. ^ a b c "Special Service Medal". Campaign Stars and Medals (1939-1954). Veterans Affairs Canada. 18 February 2011. Retrieved 2011-09-01. 
  3. ^ "Special Service Medal Clasp Order "Pakistan 1989-90" P.C. 1991-1061" (pdf). Minister of Justice. 6 June 1991. Retrieved 2011-09-01. 
  4. ^ "Special Service Medal Clasp Order "ALERT" SI/95-124". Minister of Justice. 13 December 1995. Retrieved 2011-09-01. 
  5. ^ "Special Service Medal Clasp Order "PEACE — PAIX" SI/95-125". Minister of Justice. 13 December 1995. Retrieved 2011-09-01. 
  6. ^ "Special Service Medal Clasp Order "NATO-OTAN" SI/95-126". Minister of Justice. 13 December 1995. Retrieved 2011-09-01. 
  7. ^ "Special Service Medal Clasp Order "Humanitas" SI/97-24". Minister of Justice. 5 February 1997. Retrieved 2011-09-01. 
  8. ^ "Special Service Medal Clasp Order "Ranger" SI/99-116". Minister of Justice. 13 October 1999. Retrieved 2011-09-01. 
  9. ^ Directorate of Honours and Recognition. "SSM EXPEDITION Eligibility List". Chief Military Personnel National Defence and Canadian Forces. Retrieved 22 September 2014.