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How to Wear Military Ribbons

By Edited Mar 1, 2016 1 1

By virtue of their meeting the standards and requirements of their initial entry military training (basic combat training, etc.), all soldiers, marines, airmen, sailors, and coasties will wear at least one military ribbon sometime in their career. While there are military medals associated with each military ribbon earned, it is the ribbons condensed form and presentation that typically find their way on to dress uniforms (however, in certain instances and occasions, the medal award counterpart can be worn, as well).

In conjunction with the many other potentially earned uniform badges, awards, and devices, proper wear of military ribbons can be a great reflection of true military bearing and professionalism. With the inherent and uncanny ability of all United States' military uniforms to turn heads with intrigue and respect, civilians might not quite know or understand the meaning, significance, and order of placement much like a junior enlisted soldier. Proper wear of your military ribbons will afford you the great opportunity to paint a highly professional face on your respective service branch, while also embodying the leadership that your junior ranking service members will come to expect and demand. If you are yet to hold a significant leadership role, now is a better time than any to begin mastering your profession and craft, from rifle marksmanship and combatives, to the proper wear of your military uniform.

Things You Will Need

  • Your Military Ribbons
  • a Military Ribbon Mounting Rack

Step 1

Before purchasing any military ribbons, or accessories, be sure to know exactly what ribbons you are entitled to wear. Military professionalism is a serious matter, and wear of awards that you are not entitled to wear is frowned upon very highly and is actually punishable. In order to avoid accidental wear of a medal or ribbon that you believe you have earned, it is best to err on the safe side and obtain a copy of your DD-214 from your unit's S-1 (Administrative) section. With time in service, it can certainly be quite easy to loose mental track of which ribbons, and how many of each, you have actually earned (especially when you end up having so many ribbons earned during your service time).

Proper wear of military ribbons requires attention to detail beyond the actual ribbons themselves. Dependent upon such situations as mobilization, or multiple awards (of the same award) earned, you may be entitled to wear a device that identifies these particular circumstances. While you are authorized to wear less than you have earned, you should pay close attention to the detail surrounding additional devices or accessories that you will attach to each ribbon.

Step 2

Military ribbons, and all accessories (devices, etc.), can be purchased either online or at your local base PX/Clothing and Sales store. A great benefit to purchasing your military ribbons online is that, not only do most online stores have an integrated interactive military ribbon rack builder functionality, but these stores typically offer a ribbon mounting service that corresponds to the ribbon rack you have built by selecting your current earned ribbons. As you select each ribbon you have earned, along with any additional devices (M-device, Hour Glass, Clusters, etc.), your complete ribbon rack will be displayed typically in the website's sidebar. Unlike actually purchasing your military ribbons at a PX/Clothing and Sales store, however, for usually a $1 (per row) mounting fee you can also have all your ribbons mounted for you. While you can certainly do this yourself, some military personnel have found it to be very convenient just to pay the extra fee to have their ribbon rack assembled and delivered strait to their front door.

Step 3

If you do have your military ribbons assembled and mounted by an online store, you will not have to worry about purchasing an additional military ribbon mounting rack. If you choose to mount your ribbons by hand, by yourself, ribbon mounting racks typically come in two varieties and assortments: plastic or metal. While both types of mounting racks will get the job done, you may find a metal ribbon mounting rack to be a bit more sturdy and dependable. These ribbons racks are typically black or silver in color and are produced by such companies as Vanguard.

Step 4

Having your military ribbons assembled for you, by an online retailer, will also remove the need to know exactly which order your ribbons should be arranged in. Even still, a wise and responsible leader would still take the time to check and double check the arrangement order done by the company, even though they are generally recognized as the experts guided by the proper regulations and standards. If you decide to assemble your military ribbons yourself, it is important that you know and understand exactly how they should be arranged and displayed.

On all United States' service branch military uniforms, your highest earned ribbon should be displayed the highest on your military ribbon mounting rack. For example, while the Congressional Medal of Honor is actually worn around your neck, such prestigious medals/ribbons, like the Silver Star, the Soldiers' Medal, and the Bronze Star (if earned) would be worn and displayed the highest on your military ribbon rack.

Step 5

On the United States' Army dress uniform (Class-A and Army Service Uniforms), your military ribbon rack will be placed parallel to your left dress pocket flap, situated 1/8th of an inch high and centered. Specific service branch uniform regulations should be reviewed in order to ensure that, male or female dependent, that your military ribbon rack is mounted properly (with regards to distance and spacing).

As United States' Military dress uniforms are notorious for drawing the eyes of many to them, it is absolutely important that you pay close attention to detail when assembling and wearing your military ribbons. Proper wear of your military ribbons should begin by doing the research and knowing exactly what ribbons, and devices, you are entitled to wear. All to often, service members have gotten into grave trouble because they decided to blatantly wear awards and ribbons that they weren't entitled to wear. Senior leadership have become really quite attuned to these practices, especially when it is really quite evident that a soldier couldn't have possibly earned a particular award or ribbon.

Tips & Warnings

Whether you purchase your own ribbons through a military PX/clothing and sales store on your nearest post, or through an online retailer, it is important that you examine all your ribbons for flaws or deficiencies. Oftentimes, the ribbon material, especially on the sides of each ribbon, can become frayed and ill suited for presentation. If this occurs, it may not be necessary to replace the entire military ribbon mounting rack, but, rather, just the individual flawed ribbon.

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Nov 16, 2010 12:28pm
Great read. Thumbs^
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