Civilian Wear Quick Guide – Medals & Ribbon Racks on Non Uniform Articles

Civilian Wear Quick Guide – Medals & Ribbon Racks on Non Uniform Articles

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Guide for Wearing Military MedalsAlthough medal displaying was encouraged in Great Britain and other allied countries after WWII, the U.S. did not develop the tradition early on. As medals have become more available and the services have improved on issuing and presenting them, Americans are starting up their own tradition of displaying their awards after service. The Armed Forces are now one of the most respected and admired institutions in the U.S. Since World War II over 28 million Americans have served their country in the Armed Forces and their pride and their families pride of their service is reflected in the enormous respect of their fellow countrymen.

Beginning with Veterans Day 2006, the Secretary of Veteran Affairs urged Veterans to show their pride of service by wearing their medals on Veterans Day. He expressed the hope this display of military decorations, which he called the “Veterans Pride Initiative,” would become a traditional part of Veterans Day, Memorial Day, the Fourth of July and other patriotic observances.

For Civilian Wear:

For more formal occasions, it is correct and encouraged by the Veterans Administration to wear miniature decorations and medals. For a black or white tie occasion, the rule is quite simple: if the lapel is wide enough you wear the miniatures on the left lapel. In the case of a shawl lapel on a tuxedo, the miniature medals are worn over the left breast pocket. The center of the holding bar of the bottom row of medals should be parallel to the ground immediately above the pocket. Do not wear a pocket-handkerchief. Miniature medals really do make a handsome statement of patriotic service at weddings and other social events. Miniature ribbons and medals can also be worn on a civilian suit at Veterans’ functions, memorial events, formal occasions of ceremony and social functions of a military nature.

ARMY:

Army Regulation 670-1, paragraph 30-6, says that former members of the Army (including active duty, reserves, or Army National Guard) may wear medals on “appropriate” civilian clothing on Veteran’s Day, Memorial Day, and Armed Forces Day, as well as at “formal occasions of ceremony and social functions of a military nature.” “Appropriate” civilian clothes include clothes designed for Veteran and patriotic organizations, such as VFW or American Legion uniforms. You can wear either the full-size or miniature-size medals. You should place the medals and decorations in approximately the same location and in the same manner as for the Army uniform, so they look similar to medals worn on the Army uniform.

AIR FORCE:

Air Force Instruction 36-2903, paragraph 4-4 says that honorably discharged and retired Air Force members may wear full-size or miniature medals on civilian suits on appropriate occasions such as Veterans Day, Memorial Day and Armed Forces Day. Female members may wear full-size or miniature medals on equivalent dress. As with the Army, medals should be placed in the approximate same location and in the manner they are planned on the Air Force uniform.

NAVY:

The Navy Uniform Regulations, Chapter 6, paragraph 61002; subparagraph 7 includes the requirements for wearing Navy decorations on civilian clothes. The regulation authorizes the wear of miniature medals and miniature breast insignia on civilian evening dress (white tie) or civilian dinner dress (black tie) in the same manner as for dinner dress jackets. For non-dress-up-affairs, you may wear miniature replicas of ribbons made in the form of lapel buttons(written before mini-ribbon technology), or ribbons made in rosette form, on the left lapel of civilian clothes. You may also wear miniature-distinguished marksmanship and pistol shot badges as a lapel pin or as part of a tie clasp on civilian clothing.

MARINE CORPS:

The Marine Corps Uniform Regulation, MCO P1020.34G, says that decorations, medals, appropriate ribbon bars, or lapel buttons may be worn on civilian clothes at the individual’s discretion. Individuals should ensure that the occasion and the manner of wearing will not reflect discredit on the award. Miniature medals may be worn with civilian evening dress. For non-evening dress, miniature replicas of ribbons made in the form of enameled lapel buttons(written before mini-ribbon technology), or ribbons made in rosette form, may be worn on the left lapel of civilian clothes.

For more information on other uses like lapel pins and rosettes, check back with us later as we continue our work on the Medals of America Civilian Wear Guide for Military Ribbons and Medals.

Civilian Wear Quick Guide - Medals & Ribbon Racks on Non Uniform Articles, 9.6 out of 10 based on 11 ratings
There are 25 comments for this article
  1. h. young at 1:26 am
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    i was at bragg, going to purchase miniature medals for wear when i was aproached by an E7 and an E6 regular army personell. i was ridiculed and mocked by them saying, anyone can just come in here and purchase whatever they like. i was imbarrased by their harassing remarks and left post completly. i was wearing 82nd insig. and 505PIR insig on my cap. i really am tired of being harrassed by civilian population but now even by military personnel from my old unit in the nam. i wish sometimes that it could all be over for meme..iwouthank GOD medals of america is here so i can shop for medals in peace.

    • S. Sanchez at 8:32 am
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      Hang in there Mr. Young. Do what I do, carry your DD214 with you and have your VA ID with you. If they want to challenge and don't believe afterwords that is their problem. I personally thank you for your service, brother.
      Army, 86-90

    • No Way at 3:58 am
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      I had some “Young Bloods” question me about my combat patch and my response to them was if they had “earned” the same patch. I told them “I had earned” my combat patch in Nam, so, I asked them again if they had “really earned” the patch; they were so embarrassed because they hadn’t seen combat to earn the patch.

  2. Michael T. Rizor at 2:34 pm
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    Just shows their ignorance, Long as you know you are right screw these people USNMCB472-75

  3. Mark T. at 8:40 am
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    One would think that an E6 and E7 would know better, not make assumptions and would be more respectful.

  4. WL Willis at 9:10 am
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    Nice, I just retired Coast Guard. Do you know if the same regulations apply as the Navy?
    We always seem to be left out, one of the major reasons I don't purchase from you anymore.

  5. Norman E. Hecimovich at 7:54 pm
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    I have order medals, ribbons, miniature medal from Medals of America. Plus I have ordered and given the fellow Veterans the Address. This helps all Veterans to Wear the correct medal and in the correct position and order. Thank you for doing such an excellent service to Veterans. NEH

  6. Bob Moss at 10:59 am
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    Sounds like an isolated incident to me. Hard to believe that active duty NCO's would, without any knowledge or reason, harass a former military person. Now on the subject of wearing ribbons or other decorations on civilian clothes: It just doesn't seem to be the American way. Many of the older Europeans who served in previous conflicts do it as a long standing custom, but Americans do not. George Washington was the last American President to appear in uniform in front of his troops. It just isn't our way of doing things. I understand the VFW and American Legion members who dress in uniform for ceremonies, etc and believe it is completely justified. However, if a person earned them while in the service of our country and he or she wants to wear them, you have my support.

  7. mrsnunetobe at 3:20 am
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    I HAVE NOT SERVICED OUR COUNTRY, my fiancé has, and so have his future groomsmen, usher and best man. (USAF) Are these gentlemen allowed to wear their ribbons/metals on regular wedding tuxedos….I hope I don't sound ignorant, but I'd like to get all the answers before approaching all the good service men in my future wedding, before requesting them to purchase anything from medalsofamerica.com (thank you for all the information) in advance. :)

  8. Mitch Stewart at 11:15 am
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    I'm a retired Master Sergeant and American Legion member. Can you wear regular ribbons instead of medals on civilian dress? such as suit jacket, or white shirt, etc. Honoray Awards i.e. Order of Military Medical Merit

  9. Ralph at 7:16 pm
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    I am a Vietnam veteran and I would like to know if I can wear my ribbons of medals I have earned on a ballcap, similar to ones that are available from Military.com and others.

  10. Thomas Eley at 8:29 pm
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    Our Anchorage Fire Department uses military ribbons [Navy/Marine Corps DSM, Navy Cross, Navy/Marine Corps Presidential Unit Citation] for Fire Department ribbons. Is this legal?

    • Mark at 12:41 am
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      My guess would be no, since they are actual federal awards and those firemen are now wearing military awards that they did not earn. Federal gov’t trumps local fire dept every time.

  11. Franklin Kester at 3:10 pm
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    I have a question. is it legal to wear mini ribbons on a button up double pocketed polo shirt. I had my service in the Marine Corps challenged about a month ago while I was waiting for my class to start at college. I really wish to display my pride as an honored former active duty marine. I ask this because I do not want to bring dishonor to our armed forces, especially the Marine Corps.

    Mini Ribbons use official ribbon, but are not used for official purposes. They are meant to be used in times just like this. Put them on your gear, polo, whatever you want that can show pride in your service.

  12. ArmySgt at 4:08 pm
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    Would it be appropriate to wear military miniature medals on a dress suit when appearing before a judge in a courtroom? Not a military court, but a civilian courtroom. Not as a juror, but as someone who is to appear before the judge either as the plaintiff, defendant or witness.

  13. Mike miller at 12:35 pm
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    Question? I was a First Sargent for three years, my highest rank in the army. I served for five more years as Master Sargent. Question? As a retired NCO can I where First Sargent rank on my uniform from then on, or Master Sargent rank.
    Thanks for your help!

  14. Alonzo Artis at 11:01 am
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    In all sectors of society…exist ignorant people. Its obvious thatthe e6 and e7 were just that. TThat’s what the army gets for handing out rank without verifying maturity and responsibily. This could never happen on a marine corps base. We respect and honor those who came before us. Ooorah

  15. James Laribee at 10:42 pm
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    I am retired Air Force and earned the right wear my retired pin and my miniature Humanitariun Service medal ribbon. I have been asked several times what the ribbon means and have explained. I have never been questioned by either active duty or retired military members. I do carry my retired Military ID everywear and have a miniaturzed copy of my DD214 in my wallet. The only thing that bothers me is when someone identifies themselves as “retired military”. When questioned they say they have served in the military. I feel there is differance between serving in the military and retiring from the military.

  16. Jack C Pickard, retired (E8) USCG at 4:49 pm
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    MOA, is there some reason you can’t respond to US Coast Guard people retired or active on this site? For your information we are the Fifth Military service in your service Organization and we and our forerunners Revenue Cutter Service etc have also served in every war declared and undeclared since this country began. We have been around longer than the U.S. Air Force and I believe deserve at least your acknowledgement when our people ask you legitamate questions. I do business with you but when it comes to your printed materials you really don’t acknowledge us. Thank God that didn’t carry over to your on line site.

    -Currently the best product we offer for the USCG is our ribbon and shadow box services. We are always looking for new and unique items to add to our USCG collection on our website. We cannot create a lot of items because of the trademark and licensing rules now in place. We hope that as the USCG demand grows, we will be able to meet it.

  17. Bonnie at 2:45 pm
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    I was a member of the WACs from 71-78. The Womens Army Corps Service Medal was awarded for women who served in the WAAC or WAC from 1942-1945, in honor of WWII. There are thousands of women that served in the WAC during Korea, Vietnam, and the Cold War. How does a group go about or who do we contact to request re-instatement of this medal for those that served in the WAC up to 1978 when it was integrated into the regular Army? Thank you for your assistance.

    -The best way is to partner up with your Congressmen or Governor.

  18. Nathan at 5:56 am
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    In response to my fellow Soldiers check out AR 670-1, Chapter 23-1b “All persons wearing the Army uniform will wear awards, decorations, and insignia in the same manner as
    prescribed in this regulation for active duty Soldiers. For civilian attire, individuals may wear only those awards,
    decorations, or insignia authorized by this regulation for wear on civilian clothing, in the same manner and approxi-
    mate location as the equivalent military uniform.l persons wearing the Army uniform will wear awards, decorations, and insignia in the same manner as prescribed in this regulation for active duty Soldiers. For civilian attire, individuals may wear only those awards,
    decorations, or insignia authorized by this regulation for wear on civilian clothing, in the same manner and approximate location as the equivalent military uniform.”

  19. Nathan at 6:02 am
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    AR 670-1 Chapter 23
    Wear of the Army Uniform by Reserve, Retired, Separated, and Civilian Personnel
    23–1. Occasions of ceremony
    a. As used in this regulation, the phrase “occasions of ceremony” means occasions essentially of a military character, at which the uniform is more appropriate than civilian clothing. These functions include, but are not limited to: military balls, military parades, weddings, and military funerals; memorial services, meetings, conferences, or similar functions of associations formed for military purposes, of which the membership is composed largely or
    entirely of current or honorably discharged veterans of the Armed Forces of the United States. Authority to wear the uniform includes wear while traveling to and from the ceremony or function, provided the travel in uniform can be completed on the day of the ceremony or function and must follow guidance included in paragraph 3–7c.

    Refer to DA PAM 670-1 for proper placement of badges.

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