The Soldier’s Medal was introduced by Congress in 1926 to award soldiers for heroic actions taken voluntarily when not in combat. According to Army Regulation 600-8-22, “The Soldier’s Medal is awarded to any person of the Armed Forces of the United States or of a friendly foreign nation who, while serving in any capacity with the Army…distinguished himself or herself by heroism not involving actual conflict with an enemy." This award is written by a squad leader, platoon sergeant or platoon leader in the soldier’s chain of command. A person not affiliated with the Army who witnesses a soldier performing an act of heroism that would merit a Soldier's Medal can submit an affidavit to the soldier's chain of command.
Obtain a DA Form 638 Recommendation for Award. This form can be downloaded from Army Knowledge Online or the Army Electronic Publications and Forms website (see Resources).
Fill out block 1 of DA Form 638 with the approval authority’s title and unit information. The approval authority for a Soldier’s Medal is the first commanding general in the recommended soldier’s chain of command. If the soldier is assigned to a division, the division commander is the approval authority.
Fill out block 2 with the information from the recommended soldier’s unit. This award will always be from the commander, even if the recommendation is written by someone else. The recommender information is provided in a different section of the form.
Fill out Part I, blocks 4 through 13, with the recommended soldier’s personal data. The unit’s training noncommissioned officer (the NCO), squad leader, platoon sergeant and platoon leader should all have a record of the necessary data.
Fill out Part II, blocks 14 through 19, with the recommender’s data (the data from the soldier recommending the award).
Fill out Part III, Achievement #1, describing the act of heroism displayed by the soldier. The Soldier’s Medal is awarded for a single act, so the strength of this written justification will be the sole criteria used to approve it or not. Describe the act with detail, but still keep it within the space provided. An example achievement statement might read:
"SPC Doe risked his life to provide life-saving first aid to a hiker whose equipment failed, resulting in a fall of about 50 feet. SPC Doe disregarded his fear of heights to repel down the cliff without any safety gear to evaluate the victim’s condition and administer first aid until emergency crews arrived."
Fill out Part III, block 21, with the proposed citation that would appear on the certificate awarded to the soldier, for example:
"For extraordinary heroism displayed while saving the life of a severely injured hiker. SPC Doe risked his own life to save the life of another. His selfless service and bravery reflects great credit upon himself, his unit and the United States Army."
Submit the DA Form 638 to the soldier’s immediate commander for further action. All remaining blocks on the form will be filled out by the unit Personnel Administration Center, or PAC.
- ['DA Form 638 Recommendation for Award', 'AR 600-8-22 Military Awards']
Each unit’s PAC will have a Standard Operating Procedure--SOP--for how awards should be written and submitted. For a sample of a completed DA Form 638, refer to page 45 of AR 600-8-22; for steps to recommend and process awards, see Table 3-2 on page 48 of AR 600-8-22 (see Resources).
- "AR 600-8-22 Military Awards"; U.S. Army Individual Decorations; December 2006