Wearing morale patches can be a nice way to embellish your outfit. After all, they send a meaningful message and are hard to miss.
Traditionally, they are usually adorned by veterans or soldiers active in the army as they represent a person’s association with a certain unit or squad. Moreover, morale patches are used to foster ‘esprit de corps’ – a shared sense of pride and loyalty among a military squad or brigade.
Since you’re here, you’re probably wondering whether you qualify to wear one as a civilian. Just as everything else in life, the answer to that is barely black and white.
Well logically speaking, military morale patches aren’t meant for people who have never served. While they are definitely in circulation and many civilians actively enjoy trading them, it is mostly meant for personal collection. On the other hand, veterans and veteran families have these patches passed down generations as memorabilia, that’s how they reach civilians, and it’s perfectly alright to do that.
When it comes to civilians with no affiliation to the military, adorning your outfit with a military unit patch can land you in hot waters but at the same time if you wear a military morale patch, people, even veterans and military servicemen may admire you for it. That said, this doesn’t mean you can go around sporting a military unit patch on a service uniform. Why? Because you haven’t earned it! That’s extremely offensive, and you might even get charged for impersonation!
What is stolen valor, and why should you know about it?
There’s a fine line between showing admiration and breaking the law. When it comes to impersonation of military personnel, individuals found guilty of the practice can be placed in prison. This law was originally ordained in 2005 by President Bush, after which quite some people were caught trying to scam people off their fake veteran status.
Such criminals are arrested because they misrepresent and convince others into their scams. One way people fall into their trap is when they spot a unit or rank specific patch on their outfits. So every eager civilian should read up on what not to wear, and how to wear military morale patches the right way.
So as long as you are not wearing a unit, military or rank patch you are fine. As morale patches are not official and they are made unofficially by soldiers.
So, you’re a fan of the military. Their service and sacrifice makes you and your family sleep sound at night, and you are grateful for that; thus, you want to show your appreciation in whatever way you can. That’s very patriotic, but it doesn’t mean that it’s okay for you to wear a military unit patch.
Instead, it would be best if you went for something less ‘military’ like the reverse flag, such that, as long as your patch doesn’t draw your association with a particular military squad, it doesn’t mean you’re trying to misrepresent your identity. Also, it’s best not to wear one on your jacket, rather, put the patch on a bag or a cap.
In retrospect, a major chunk of the etiquette has to do with intention and how the onlooker perceives the morale patch. Many veterans have shared their opinion on the matter, and most of them claim they have no problem with a civilian wearing a morale patch. In fact, some of them even suggest that it fills them with pride, knowing that the general public admires their efforts! So, wear it right! and wear it with pride!