Custom Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal
The Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal (AFEM) is like a special medal given to members of the U.S. military who helped in different missions outside the country. These missions could be either during a war or not during a war. It’s a bit like collecting enamel pins to remember the missions you’ve been a part of. The medal started in 1961, thanks to President John F. Kennedy. It’s been given for various missions like the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Vietnam War, the Gulf War, and the War on Terror.
What’s unique about this medal is that it’s not a medal that everyone gets automatically. The Department of Defense (DoD) has to say it’s okay for specific missions, a bit like collecting specific enamel pins for your jacket. This way, they can make sure the medal fits the mission and doesn’t go to too many people. They can decide who gets it based on things like how long they were there, where they were, and what they did.
For example, you might get the AFEM, like earning a rare enamel pin, if you helped in a mission that had a lot of military action, like fighting, helping people escape, or giving direct support, in another country. You could also get it for missions that weren’t about fighting, like keeping peace, helping with disasters, guarding embassies, doing surveillance, or gathering information, but where the job was really tough or risky, and the U.S. military played a big role.