War on Drugs Service Medal
is an unofficial award of the United States Armed Forces and State Military Forces for general service in the War on Drugs from the June 18, 1971 to present. It is the first "total force" award that recognizes Active, Reserve, Guard, Auxiliary, and State service members with the same award.
Provenance & Heraldry
The War on Drugs has been waged in urban, rural, and cyber battlefronts. In swamps, forests, mountains, beaches, deserts, oceans, rivers, streets, and alleys. In the sky, above and below water, and from office desks. It has even touched outer space where an arsenal of navigation, imaging, and communication systems dominate. It spans 48 years (and counting), 5 continents, at least 60 countries, more than 1,000 operations, and all branches of the United States Armed Forces.
Defining one image that does it justice was nearly as monumental as the epoch itself. Our solution to the infinite complexity was absolute simplicity. No embellishment or sublimination. Just unadulterated reality.
The obverse bas-relief depicts Marines maneuvering through a poppy field. It was inspired by the Helmand Province Campaign, where 90% of the world’s heroin is derived. More than 2,000 American veterans have been killed and injured fighting in Helmand to-date, and heroin alone has killed more American civilians via overdose then the civilian casualties of the War on Terror, World War I, World War II, Cold War, Civil War, Indian War, and Revolutionary War combined — and counting.
The reverse bas-relief features the American eagle encircled by 50 mullet stars.
The ribbon represents the fight between good and evil narrowly divided by duty and sacrifice. The divide is 6% of the total width, representing the current veteran population of the United States.
The War on Drugs Service Medal was conceived and designed by Thomas Marriott in collaboration with Smith Newnam.
The War on Drugs Service Medal may be worn by any service member in the United States Armed Forces (including Active, Reserve, or Auxiliary) and State Military Forces (National Guard and State Guard) that has served in any capacity of drug campaigns, battles, operations, task forces, and interdictions from the 18th of June 1971 to present. An incomplete list of War on Drugs operations can be referenced here.
Medal — 1.375 inches (35mm) x .125 inches
Ribbon —1.375 inches x 1.5 inches