Marines and other service members will be getting medals for assisting operations at the U.S.-Mexico border and for humanitarian relief during Hurricane Florence.

The awards announcement was made in a Marine administrative message posted Friday.

The Defense Department authorized the Armed Forces Service Medal for service members supporting operations at the U.S.-Mexico border for a date range spanning April 7, 2018, to a future date to be determined later.

Support operations involving U.S. troops at the southern border are still ongoing.

The area of eligibility to rate the medal encompasses “100 nautical miles from the International border within Texas (and the city of San Antonio), New Mexico, Arizona, and California; and the adjacent U.S. waters out to 24 nautical miles,” the Marine message reads.

The Armed Forces Service Medal is awarded to service members who participate in an “operation deemed to be significant activity, and encounter no foreign armed opposition or imminent threat of hostile action,” according to the Navy and Marine Corps awards manual.

The award was created through an executive order signed by President Bill Clinton on Jan. 11, 1996.

Only a handful of Marines are supporting operations at the U.S. southern border. In November, the Corps announced that roughly 1,100 Marines would be headed to the U.S.-Mexico border to help build barricades, fences and provide rotary wing support.

The Joint Chiefs of Staff have also approved the Humanitarian Service Medal for personnel who “provided direct humanitarian assistance” following Hurricane Florence for the period from Sep. 7, 2018, to Oct. 8, 2018, according to the Marine message.

Hurricane Florence slammed the East Coast in mid-September causing more than $3 billion in damages to Marine installations.

The Humanitarian Service Medal is awarded to personnel who “distinguish themselves as individuals or as members of U.S. military units by meritorious, direct, nonroutine participation in a significant military act or operation of a humanitarian nature,” according to the Navy and Marine awards manual.

Acts that could rate the humanitarian medal include evacuating people threatened by hostile forces, providing food aid to a starving population, assistance to areas struck by a natural disaster, among others.

The humanitarian medal was created by an executive order signed by President Gerald Ford on Jan. 19, 1977. first reported that active and reserve service members assisting operations at the U.S.-Mexico border were eligible for the Armed Forces Service Medal.

Shawn Snow is the senior reporter for Marine Corps Times and a Marine Corps veteran.

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