The Air Force Commendation Medal (AFCM) is a mid-level award that is granted for prolonged acts of heroism or meritorious service. This medal is presented by local commanders which provides the opportunity for broad interpretation of the criteria for which the medal may be awarded. For valorous actions in direct contact with an enemy force the Valor device ("V" device) may be authorized as an attachment to the decoration. It was not until 1996 that the "V" device was authorized, prior to 1996 there was not a Valor distinction in effect for the Air Force Commendation Medal. This medal was first issued by the U.S. Air Force in 1958 with additional awards denoted by oak leaf clusters.