The Naval Reserve Medal was awarded to officers and enlisted personnel of the Naval Reserve who had completed ten years of satisfactory federal service in the US Naval Reserve. Eligibility ceased during a time of war or national emergency if called to active duty. After the establishment of the Armed Forces Reserve Medal in 1950, a naval Reservist who was eligible for the Naval Reserve Medal and the Armed Forces Reserve Medal could elect which award they were to receive. Once the medal became obsolete, only the Armed Forces Reserve Medal was awarded for the same service.
This decoration was authorized on September 12, 1938 and was terminated on September 12, 1958.