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National Honours

Special Service Medal (SSM)


The Special Service Medal (SSM) was created to recognize members of the Canadian Forces who are taking part in activities and operations under exceptional circumstances.

Eligibility and criteria

The Special Service Medal (SSM) recognizes members of the Canadian Forces (CF) who have performed a service determined to be under exceptional circumstances, in a clearly defined locality for a specified duration. The SSM recognizes approved activities underway on 11 June 1984 or subsequently established. This medals is always issued with a bar that specifies the special service being recognized, each bar having its own criteria.

For more details, consult the Eligible service list.


The Medal shall be circular in form, of copper and zinc alloy, 36 mm in diameter, bearing:

on the obverse, a maple leaf surrounded by a laurel wreath;

on the reverse the inscription "SPECIAL SERVICE SPÉCIAL" ensigned with the Royal Crown and Cypher.

A single-toe claw attached to the top of the medal and to the centre of a straight, slotted bar.

The ribbon is 32 mm wide with a dark green centre (12 mm) flanked with white stripes (5mm) and edged with red (5 mm). The dark green is similar to the "unification green" of the uniform worn when the medal was approved in 1984, red and white are the official colours of Canada as appointed by King George V in 1921.

The bars are silver in colour with a raised edge and bear the title of the bar on a pebbled background.


Rotation Bar

The medal is issued only with a bar representing the particular special service. The bars awarded to date are:



The SSM shall be worn in sequence prescribed in the Canadian Orders, Decorations and Medals Directive, and in the following manner:

on the left breast, suspended from the ribbon described above, between the Operational Service Medal and the Canadian Peacekeeping Service Medal (CPSM);

one bar is worn centred on the ribbon; if multiple bars have been awarded, they shall be evenly spaced on the ribbon in the order earned, with the first bar earned worn the closest to the medal; and

where the undress ribbon is worn, a silver, gold or red maple leaf is worn to denote respectively a second bar, third bar or fourth or subsequent bar.


The use of a post-nominal is not authorized for this medal.

Historical notes

The medal was designed by Bruce Beatty.

As of 1 June 2012, 76 749 awards had been made.

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