Though the Gallantry awards were instituted as early as 1950, The need to have decorations that would be a recognition to service rendered was felt by the end of the fifties. Accordingly in 1960, The Vishist Seva Medals (Special Service Medals) were instituted for exceptional service and leadership rendered in the armed forces. The awards were classifed into three classes, named the VSM Class 1, VSM Class 2 and the VSM Class 3.
In 1967 they were renamed the Param Vishist Seva Medal (PVSM), Ati Vishist Seva Medal (AVSM) and the Visisht Seva Medal (VSM). These awards were given in recognition to service rendered in administrative or operational capacities during peacetime. Unlike the Gallantry Awards which were awarded in most cases for specific incidents of gallantry, the Service awards cannot be given for individual and specific incidents. They can be given more in line with countinous and sustained effort in their service.
The VSM medals were awarded to commanders in the battle field as well as the top administrative and staff officers away from the battle field for service during wartime. Since there was no way to distinguish between the peacetime awards and the wartime awards, In 1980, The Yudh Seva Medals were constituted. The Sarvottam Yudh Seva Medal (SYSM) being the topmost in precedence, followed by the Uttam Yudh Seva Medal (UYSM) and finally the Yudh Seva Medal (YSM). Unlike the Vishist Seva Medal which was lower in precedence than the Sena/Vayu Sena/Nao Sena Medal, the Yudh Seva Medal was higher in precedence than the VM.