To be eligible for this award, the individual must be a member of the Armed Forces of the United States below the grade of O-6, and assigned to a qualifying organization such as The Defense Agencies, Headquarters of Unified Commands, Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Office of the Secretary of Defense. The required service or achievement, while of a lesser degree than that required for award of the Joint Service Commendation Medal, must have been accomplished within distinction.
Established on August 3, 1983, this award was established by and is awarded in the name of the Secretary of Defense for either outstanding achievement or meritorious service and takes precedence before the Achievement Medals of the Military Services. It may not be awarded for any act or period of service which an Achievement Medal of a military service is awarded, and it should not be awarded for retirement.
The medal was designed by Jay Morris and sculpted by Donald Borja, both of the Institute of Heraldry. It is a star of 12 points, on the obverse is an American bald eagle, facing left with wings spread, grasping three arrows and a shield upon its breast as adapted from the seal of the Department of Defense. The reverse of the medal is plain with the inscription, Joint Service Achievement Award in raised letters in circular form in the center.