Department of Military and Veterans Affairs

Veterans Affairs Save NJ Vets

NJ Distinguished Service Medal


The New Jersey Distinguished Service Medal was originally issued in 1858 for those who had distinguished themselves in the New Jersey Militia, but was infrequently used until re-authorized by Governor Kean in 1988.

After the Spanish American War, the Mexican Border Expedition and again after World War I, the State of New Jersey minted special medals for returning NJ veterans to honor their service.

However, after WWII, Korea, Vietnam and subsequent combat actions no such medal was available. The State of New Jersey was looking for an appropriate way to honor these returning combat veterans and acknowledge the debt the state owed them for their service.

The Distinguished Service Medal was re-authorized for this purpose and is New Jersey's highest military award.


Honorably Discharged Veteran of the Armed Forces of the United States who served in time of war or national emergency and meet the following criteria.


  • Any resident or former resident of the State of NJ who was a resident of this State at the time of entry into active military service or who has been a resident of this State for at least 20 years in the aggregate.
  • Served in a combat theater while on active duty during wartime or national emergency.
  • Campaign and expeditionary medals must appear on DD214.
  • Must have received an Honorable Discharge.
  • Those recipients whose service was recognized by the award of the Bronze Star, Purple Heart, Air Medal or equivalent medal receive the NJ Distinguished Service Medal with a Silver Oak Leaf Cluster.
  • Posthumous award authorized.

For posthumous awards, the surviving spouse or immediate family member of any resident of the State meeting the above requirements for a medal and who was killed while on active duty or died after receiving an honorable discharge from the armed forces may apply for a posthumous awarding of the medal.

Request must include copy of the veteran’s death certificate and proof of relationship as father, mother, husband, wife, son, daughter, brother or sister. (Proof may be copies of birth, marriage, baptismal certificates which clearly show relationship, or notarized certificate.)

How To Apply

Individuals applying for the award must mail a completed Application for State Medals or a similar request in writing along with a copy of the service members WD Form 53 or DD Form 214 (Separation from Active Duty) attesting to the fact that an Honorable Discharge was granted.

Note: No person shall be entitled to more than one award of the medal.

All requests should be mailed to:

NJ Dept of Military and Veterans Affairs
Attn: DVS-VBB (Awards)
PO Box 340
Trenton, NJ 08625-0340

Last Updated: 10/04/2021
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