Army Recommendation for Award

If you’re in the US Army, you already know leaders will present various type of awards and decorations to recognize soldiers for valor, meritorious service, and achievement. In a recent presentation on award writing, SSG Bear J. Parker detailed the ins and outs of Army awards. Parker notes that issuing medals, ribbons, badges is the military’s formal way of recognizing soldiers for their outstanding contributions, congratulating their notable successes, and thanking them for their dedicated service. Parker goes on to say that “awards given to deserving soldiers increase esprit de corps in the unit and provide other soldiers the necessary incentive to go above and beyond their day-to-day responsibilities thus contributing to the success of the unit.”

Full disclosure: I do not have a military background, and my intent here is to share general information about for Award Recommendations. We at PDFfiller support and thank our armed forces for everything they do! SSG Bear J. Parker’s full presentation can be found here, but for brevity’s sake, we’ve paraphrased. 

All soldiers completing their tours of duty are thoroughly screened by their superiors to assess his or her contribution to the organization, and those who performed meritoriously are recommended for various awards. Most approved awards will be presented before the soldier’s permanent change of station (PCS)/retirement.

But, you don’t have to wait until the soldier’s PCS to recommend him or her for an award. If you’d like a soldier to be recognized immediately for his or her significant achievement, you have the option to recommend the soldier for an Impact Award. Parker notes that recommending the soldier for an Impact Award won’t prevent the soldier from receiving an End of Tour Award, but in the future, you won’t be permitted to refer to this single act of heroism or achievement that’s already been previously recognized by his or her Impact Award.

It takes a lot for an individual to distinguish himself from his peers in the same military occupational specialty (MOS)/job specialty. Awarding a soldier for praiseworthy accomplishment requires careful consideration on the part of his superiors. This process calls for a close evaluation of exactly what’s expected as the ordinary, routine, or customary behavior in a soldier’s rank and experience, for the circumstances involved.

The authority figure writing and submitting the recommendation should remember that the narrative explanation is the most important section of the recommendation form, and the content is the basis for approval or disapproval of the award. Be selective in your word choice and phrasing. The Award Recommendation process involves a few essential steps.

First, fill out the Recommendation for Award form here. Be sure to emphasize the soldier’s impact on the department, division, unit, etc. Clearly and concisely describe what was done to deserve the award, and how it was done. For the AAM, ARCOM, or MSM, using the space provided in the DA 638, fill in the Soldier’s achievements or meritorious service using bullet-point format. For the BSM and above, type up a separate narrative. Narratives for valor must contain a description of the following elements:

  • Terrain and weather of the area in which the action took place
  • Enemy conditions, to include morale, proximity, firepower, casualties and the circumstances before, during, and after the act 
  • The effect of the act on the enemy 
  • The action of comrades in the immediate vicinity of the act and the degree of their participation 
  • If the act occurred in flight, the type and position of the aircraft and the individual’s crew position 
  • The degree to which the act was voluntary 
  • The degree to which the act was outstanding and exceeded what was normally expected of the individual
  • All unusual circumstances and overall effects or results of the act. (

Recommendations for awards for heroism or valor must also contain witness statements, preferably in the form of affidavits or sworn statements. If possible, support your recommendation by including any official records, maps, photographs, etc. Next, gather performance data on the service member. Look for any official Counseling Statements and informal documentation, and conduct interviews with the member’s peers, witnesses & subordinates.

Lastly, SSG Parker adds in a little tip from personal experience: “Before you turn it in, take the citation, stand up in form of a mirror, another person, or a microphone connected to a tape recorder and read what you have written – out loud!  This is the most effective way to check grammar and see if what you have written really is concise, flowing, and powerful.”

Good luck writing your Army Recommendation for Award!

Have questions, comments, or tips for other readers? Feel free to leave a comment below. Thanks for stopping by!