|“||As XCOM fights against the alien invasion, medals will periodically become available. These can be awarded to soldiers entirely at the Commander's discretion. Before awarding a medal, the Commander must choose which ability that medal type will confer upon its recipient.||”|
– XCOM Database, XCOM: Enemy Within
Medals can be earned by completing certain tasks on missions. Medals can be renamed, have their particular bonuses chosen (a permanent choice between one of two potential powers for each medal type), and be awarded to individual soldiers from the Barracks. Each soldier awarded a medal receives a brief cutscene showing them in dress uniform with the medal and saluting; each soldier can only receive one of each medal type.
There are five different types of Medals, each with specific conditions for unlocking, and a maximum number available. The death of a recipient results in the generation of a replacement medal after completing two missions. 
Urban Combat BadgeEdit
Unlocked by: Completing an urban map mission
|+5 Defense when in cover.|
|+5 Aim against enemies in full cover.|
Awarded for: A soldier dying, being critically injured, stabilized or gravely wounded during a mission. Also from bomb disposal Council missions.
|Never panic as a result of allies getting wounded or killed.|
|Medikits and Restorative Mist heal 2 HP more when used on the soldier.|
International Service CrossEdit
Unlocked by: Completing missions on three different continents 
|+2 Will per different nationality in the squad.|
|+2 Aim per continent bonus XCOM has earned.|
Council Medal of HonorEdit
|+1 Aim and Will for each mission completed with no soldier deaths, up to a maximum of +10.|
|+10 Aim and Critical Chance if not within 7 tiles of an allied unit.|
Star of TerraEdit
|Entire squad receives +5 Will and +5 Defense in battle. Robotic units receive only the Defense bonus.|
|All soldiers in the squad at Lieutenant rank or lower gain +25% XP for completing missions.|
- Not all of the awarding conditions are fully confirmed and there maybe other qualifiers for each medal. Also there maybe some exceptions for Defender's Medal (i.e. Recovery/Second Heart vs only stabilizing). Please review and/or contribute to the article's talk page.
- Designating a soldier with all five medals as The Volunteer grants the "Guardian of Earth" achievement.
- The Star of Terra is also an award that a Commander Shepard with the 'War Hero' background received in Mass Effect.