Each branch of service has a distinct, both in name and in form, Service Cross. The Service Cross is second in precedence only to the Medal of Honor.

The Army has the Distinguished Service Cross, the United States Navy, United States Marine Corps, and United States Coast Guard have the Navy Cross, and the United States Air Force has the Air Force Cross.

Service Crosses are typically awarded when a Medal of Honor nomination is rejected by Congress, as the approving authority for the Service Cross is typically free to award it without further oversight. For example, the approving authority for the DSC is the first General Officer or designated lower officer in the nominated member's chain of command.

Service crosses, like the Medal of Honor, typically bestow certain other privileges on the person who has earned them, such as extra pay and free replacement of lost or damaged medals for the life of the recipient.

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