Distinguished Eagle Scout Award History
Since its establishment in 1969, the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award (DESA) has gained prominent standing among Scouting recognitions. Previous recipients include President Gerald R. Ford, several governors and senators, military flag officers, university presidents, chief executive officers of Fortune 500 companies, and nationally known lawyers, educators, and doctors. Each of the recipients had risen to a state of fame or eminence in his chosen life work before receiving the DESA.
The DESA is presented and administered by the National Eagle Scout Association (NESA). It is NESA’s highest honor.
The selection of recipients is made by the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award Committee, comprising members who are also DESA recipients. Not all nominations acted upon by the award committee are approved. A substantial percentage of nominations are declined.
The requirements for consideration are:
Requirement 1. The nominee must have earned the Eagle Scout rank through the Boy Scouts of America at least 25 years prior to submission of this nomination. If the national Eagle Scout database does not list the nominee as an Eagle Scout, the local council is obligated to provide proof acceptable to the Program Impact Department that the nominee did in fact receive the award.
Requirement 2. The nomination must state the specific reasons or how the nominee has received extraordinary national-level recognition, fame, or eminence within the identified field.
Requirement 3. Through the years, it has been established that a nominee should also have a strong record of voluntary service to his community. This is in addition to his achievement of a distinguished career, not in place of one. Service to Scouting is not required.
Of Interest. The following should be noted by the council presidents and Scout executives:
- The award should be presented at a meeting of the recipient’s peers, not a Scouting function. Presentation should be made within the council submitting the nomination and, whenever possible, by a previous recipient of the award. It is appropriate that the award is presented as part of a fundraising activity.
- The description of achievements must be specific. Explain clearly the relative significance of awards and honors received by the nominee. List facts rather than rhetoric. Words such as “outstanding” are unacceptable. Letters of endorsement are of value only when they contain pertinent facts.
- The nominee should not be informed of his nomination, and presentation should not be scheduled until NESA has notified the council of the DESA Committee’s decision. Notification is accomplished only in written form.
- Ten to 12 weeks are required for preparation of the DESA plaque. If a plaque is ordered, the citation will be written by the nominating council. All DESA orders must be made through the national office, as DESA items are restricted to DESA recipients only.
- Only the local council over the Eagle Scout’s primary residence may submit a nomination. Since some nominees maintain two residences upon retirement, the nominating council must secure the written concurrence of the related council.
- The nomination form must be signed by the council NESA committee chairperson, the council president (or regional president if the council president is nomiated), and the Scout executive. Councils that do not have a NESA committee may not submit a DESA nomination.
- Nominations of professional Scouters will be considered on the same standards as applied to Eagle Scouts in other career fields.