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Graphic of the Nuclear Deterrence Operations Service Medal. Air Force image.

The Air Force last week announced the criteria for the new Nuclear Deterrence Operations Service Medal, which Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James approved in late May in an effort to acknowledge and help retain high-caliber airmen in the nuclear mission. Airmen who were assigned, deployed, or mobilized on a nuclear mission to a wing, center, or below for 120 consecutive days or 179 nonconsecutive days are eligible to receive the award, retroactive to Dec. 27, 1991, according to a release. “This service medal provides a clearly visible way to recognize the dedication and professionalism of our airmen who are the guardians of our nation’s nuclear deterrence. Because of our success, often times nuclear deterrence operations can be overlooked as a critical function,” said Col. Zannis Pappas, the missile operations career field manager. “The medal acknowledges the special challenges faced by those airmen charged with supporting the nuclear enterprise and will be a point of pride by all who wear it.” The medal is expected to be available in March 2015. Nominations for current airmen are to be processed through the normal chain of command. Retired or separated airmen and families of deceased airmen can submit requests to the Air Force Personnel Center, states the release.