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 & 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:


1. PAKISTAN 1989 - 90

(Authorized by PC 1991-1061)

A minimum of 90 days service with the Mine Awareness and Clearance Training Program in Pakistan, during the period beginning on March 15, 1989 and ending on July 29, 1990, under the auspices of the United Nations.

NOTE: This bar is no longer issued. The recipients of this bar can, if they wish to do so, exchange it for the United Nations Special Service Medal (UNSSM).


(Authorized by PC 1995-2003)

An aggregate of 180 days of honourable service on the posted strength of Canadian Forces Station (CFS) Alert, or of honourable service with a military force operationally deployed to or at CFS Alert, since it began its operation on 01 September 1958 and still continuing. Units deployed at CFS Alert include such detachments as aircrew flying into the station for re-supply missions.


(Authorized by PC 1995-2004)

An aggregate of 180 days of honourable service in peacekeeping operations, from November 1947 (the beginning of international peacekeeping operations) to 21 June 2001. It was issued for service which had not been recognized by any other award in, or accepted into, the Canadian Honours system at the time.

NOTE: Since 21 June 2001, no further missions are approved for this bar. Peacekeeping service eligibility is now counted towards the Canadian Peacekeeping Service Medal (CPSM).


(Authorized by PC 2006-0810)

NATO service between 1951 and 2004:

An aggregate of 180 days of honourable service within the North Atlantic Treaty Organization's (NATO) area of responsibility between 1 January 1951 and 19 October 2004. Qualifying service is service while posted to a NATO unit, or to a Canadian Forces or allied formation or unit outside territorial limits of Canada under the operational control of a NATO headquarters, or in Canada on an operational staff directly participating in the operational control of such formations and units. In the latter case, only those staff personnel serving in an operations room directly participating in the control of ships and aircraft in NATO operations and exercises qualify for this service. Persons in eligible positions or operations on 19 October 04 can continue to count their time until the end of that posting or deployment only. NOT ALL time served in Europe nor at sea can be counted towards this bar.

NATO service since 2004:

An aggregate of 180 days of honourable service performed in approved locations or tasks outside Canada from 20 October 2004 as part, or in direct support, of NATO operations or mission provided the service in question is not recognized by another medal. Eligibility is limited to the following list:

  • Service onboard ships deployed under the NATO Standing Naval Force Atlantic (STANAVFORLANT) renamed the Standing NATO Reaction Force Maritime Group 1 (SNMG 1) on 1 Jan 06 (currently known as Op SEXTANT). Only time spent under NATO command is eligible - transit time does not count. No multiplying factor;
  • Aircrews flying NATO surveillance missions outside Canadian airspace. Only actual NATO missions (as opposed to training, exercises or Canadian missions) flown outside the territorial waters and airspace of Canada are eligible. Flight log excerpts or other supporting documents are required to substantiate eligibility. Aircrews flying into the eligible zone accumulate one day of service for the first and all sorties flown on any given day. No multiplying factor;
  • CC NATO Airborne Early Warning Force (CC NAEWF; i.e. NATO AWACS), Geilenkirchen, Germany. Only actual NATO missions flown by AWACS aircrews (as opposed to training and exercises) will be eligible. Missions that are flown into a theatre of eligibility for a NATO medal (such as the Non-Article 5 NATO Medal for the Balkans) shall be counted toward the appropriate NATO mission medal and not toward the NATO bar. Flight log excerpts to be used to substantiate eligibility. Aircrew accumulate one day of service for the first and all sorties flown on any given day. No multiplying factor;
  • Service in support of Op ACTIVE ENDEAVOUR (Canadian Op SIRIUS), provided the service has not been acknowledged by award of the NATO Article 5 Medal for ACTIVE ENDEAVOUR. The service concerned is mainly support provided from the base in Sigonella, Italy, which is outside the theatre of operations and did not qualify for the NATO medal. Multiplying factor of 6 to equate to the NATO Medal;
  • Service with the Forward Logistics Site (FLS) – Host Nation, in support of NATO operations and activities in relation to Africa from 1 Jan 08, provided said service has not been acknowledged by the award of the Non-Article 5 NATO Medal for NAC Approved NATO Operations and Activities in Relation to Africa for Ops ALLIED PROVIDER, ALLIED PROTECTOR or OCEAN SHIELD. The service concerned here is mainly support provided from the Host Nation located outside the theatre of operations and does not qualify for the NATO medal. Multiplying factor of 6;
  • Service of Canadian personnel participating in the NATO-Iceland Air Policing Program (IAP) since 27 Mar 11 (OP IGNITION);
  • Service of Canadian personnel serving with the CC-NAEWF deployed to FOB Konya, Turkey, in direct support to Op AFGHAN ASSIST, since 10 Jan 11. Multiplying factor of 6. Days flown by aircrew into Afghanistan may not be counted since they already count for the General Campaign Star with SOUTH-WEST ASIA ribbon.

All staff, logistical and administrative support duties as well as training are now considered normal military duty and are excluded from eligibility.


(Authorized by PC 1997-124)

An aggregate of 30 days of honourable service performed outside Canada from 11 June 1984 to 31 July 2009 in support of any humanitarian operation, conducted in response to a disaster or human conflict, set out in the schedule, including rescue, relief and reconstruction operations, provided the service has not been acknowledged by the award of any other honour that is part of or is recognized by the Canadian Honours System.

NOTE: Since 31 July 2009, this bar is no longer issued and no further missions are approved. Humanitarian service eligibility is now counted towards the Operational Service Medal with HUMANITAS ribbon (OSM-HUM).


(Authorized by PC 2017-1738)

An aggregate of four years of honourable service as a Canadian Ranger or as a Canadian Ranger instructor, performing the duties of providing a military presence in support of Canadian sovereignty including reporting unusual activities, collecting local data of significance to support military operations, providing local expertise, assistance and advice, as guide and advisor, in search and rescue activities, and completion of a minimum of three Ranger Patrol Exercises, within Canada or its territorial and adjacent waters since 1947.

The Canadian Ranger patrol type matrix clarifies which types of Ranger Patrols qualify towards the RANGER Bar:

  •          Types 1 and 2 patrols do not qualify, and
  •          Types 3, 4, 5 and 6 patrols do qualify.



(Authorized by PC 2014-606, 21 May 2014)

An aggregate of 180 days of honourable service performed outside Canada beginning July 1, 2007, while deployed to participate in or provide direct support on a full-time basis to approved operations, provided the said service is not counted towards any other Canadian or foreign service medal. In this context, “deployed” means sent outside of Canada temporarily, without family and effects, for the specific purpose of serving in or supporting approved operations; postings to permanent positions outside of Canada are excluded from eligibility.


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.

Date modified: