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When Should I Wear My Army Ribbons and Medals?

Image of US military Medals rack

How to wear military medals and ribbons while in uniform is ordinarily covered by the regulations of each branch of service. For example, an Army soldier can get answers about how to wear military medals and ribbons by reviewing Army Regulation 670-1.

Uniform service regulations stipulate in great detail how to wear military medals and ribbons. A quick online search will turn up a uniform regulation, but when in doubt, turn to the experts and ask a non-commissioned officer in the chain of command if you can’t find it.

But if you still have questions about how to wear military medals and ribbons, here are a few general tips. We strongly encourage you to review service specific regulations on how to wear military medals and ribbons.

  • Formal evening attire such as tuxedos and formal evening jackets, require the use of miniature medals and badges. Ribbons are not worn on this uniform.
  • The use of large medals and badges is reserved for daytime attire, but ensure not to wear large medals and ribbons at the same time. The exception is the wear of unit ribbons on the right side on the Army uniform.
  • When wearing civilian attire, ensure you comply with the same rules as if you were in uniform. Mini medals go on a civilian tuxedo (formal wear) and do not wear medals or badges on casual clothing, like a polo shirt.
  • Follow the order of precedence when wearing your awards. Learn more by visiting our army medals and ribbon chart. 
  • Many retirees choose to wear just their highest award’s lapel pin when in business attire. Some also wear small badges. There are no real regulations governing these acts, just exercise common sense and do not bring discredit to you or your hard-earned awards. Remember, lapel pins are worn on the left lapel (just like medals on a tuxedo). And it is generally accepted that you can wear one, but not several.

When in doubt, check your specific branch’s regulations for guidance on how to wear military medals and ribbons.

Comments on this post ( 3 )

  • Nov 08, 2022

    Charles, please check the most current uniform reg (I believe it is AR 360-1) and that should help answer your question. Regs change, so always best to check the most current regulation.

    — Steve from USAMM

  • Nov 08, 2022

    Can officers retirees wear their medals on Class “A” Greens. I don’t have Dress Blues.

    — Charles E. Covington, Sr.

  • Oct 11, 2021

    This information is correct. It is acceptable and encouraged for retirees and civilian employees who have received awards by a DoD branch to wear them in military functions as long military guidelines are being followed. The norm of choosing what to wear is base of preference such as choosing the highest award’s or those awards with more sentimental value to them.

    — Jemse Cruz

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