The Defense Meritorious Service Medal (DMSM) is the third-highest award bestowed upon members of the United States military by the United States Department of Defense. In the order of precedence of the United States Armed Forces, it is worn between the Purple Heart and the Meritorious Service Medal. The medal is awarded in the name of the Secretary of Defense to members of the Armed Forces who, while serving in a joint activity, distinguish themselves by non-combat outstanding achievement or meritorious service, but not of a degree to warrant award of the Defense Superior Service Medal.
The medal is not the same as the Meritorious Service Medal, which is a separate federal military decoration. Both have virtually identical award criteria, but the DMSM is awarded to service members assigned to joint, multi-service organizations, while the MSM is awarded to service members in traditional military units within their respective individual services.
In 2014, President Barack Obama with Executive Order 13666 extended eligibility of the DMSM to include any member of the armed forces of a friendly foreign nation, thus authorizing recognition of those NATO, Allied and Coalition officers and senior enlisted personnel assigned to/embedded in the Joint Staff, the Unified Combatant Commands and associated Joint Task Forces.