The following information is an extract from the book “Military Writing.”
Military awards fall into three categories: awards for service, achievement, and valor. An award for service recognizes outstanding work over a period of time, usually during one assignment or a deployment. In contrast, an award for achievement addresses one specific event, for example, selection as the NCO of the Year or Battalion Marksmanship Champion. Awards for valor or bravery under exceptionally dangerous circumstances generally involve service in combat. The exception to this is the Soldiers Medal, which recognizes courage in a non-combat situation, for example, jumping off a highway bridge to save someone from drowning.