ARMY REGULATION 670-1: 23-6
WEAR OF MEDALS ON CIVILIAN CLOTHES
Retired personnel and former members of the Army (as described above) may wear all categories of medals described in this regulation on appropriate civilian clothing.
This includes clothes designed for veteran and patriotic organizations 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.
Personnel may wear either full-size or miniature medals.
Personnel who wear medals on civilian clothes should place the medals on the clothing 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.
Comrades in Arms:
Here at the Armed Forces Retirement Home, one of the guys, who was considering placing an order for some medals from an Internet dealer, was listing all of his decorations, and I advised him that he ought to order his medals mounted for wear, as that is the easiest way to put them on your clothing.
He said he could understand putting his medals in a display case mounted on the wall of his room, but when would he ever actually WEAR his medals?
I've worn my medals on a lot of occasions, so I've been thinking about that.
Since our Country is at war, it's especially appropriate for us veterans to wear our military decorations on our civilian suits.
We need to set an example for the younger generation.
It's even more true for those of us who served in the old Republic of Viet Nam, because of how we were mistreated and dishonored by our fellow Americans when we made the horrendous mistake of coming back from the war.
The first time I ever wore my medals was when I got married.
(For a larger view, please click on the photographs.)
I was a Specialist Five in the United States Army, and, in compliance with the uniform regulations for enlisted personnel which were in force at that time, I wore them on my dress green uniform, along with a white shirt and black bow tie.
I also wore that same uniform when my wife and I attended a formal military ball at the NCO club celebrating the Cavalry's birthday.
As a civilian, I wear my medals whenever I attend a military funeral (and unfortunately, I've been to a BUNCH of military funerals).
Here in Mississippi, it's too hot to wear a proper coat and tie, so I settle for pinning my medals to a khaki shirt.
If it's an event which is not a formal occasion, then I just wear the riband rack, similar to how we wore our "Class B" uniform when on active duty in the United States Army.
Anytime I attend a public patriotic or military event, I wear my medals.
Anytime I'm wearing my Scottish kilt, and sporting full Highland regalia, it will include wearing my medals.
National Tartan Day is a fine example of that.
I wear my medals on Independence Day.
If invited to a dinner, I wear my medals on Thanksgiving Day.
That was inspired by my experience as a soldier in the old Republic of Viet Nam going to Australia on a Rest and Recuperation leave in November of 1971, and learning that Thanksgiving was a uniquely AMERICAN holiday, not observed anywhere else.
Other days to wear medals might be the Nineteenth of April, Constitution Day, and Bill of Rights Day.
It's whatever is patriotic and respectful.
I've learned that the full sized medals should be worn on the breast of the suit coat.
For formal evening occasions that require a tuxedo, miniature medals should be worn mounted on the lapel of the suit coat.
When wearing miniature medals while attired in evening dress, unit awards are not worn.
Also, for years, I wore my Expert Rifleman Badge when wearing my medals, but I recently learned from a retired United States Marine Corps gunnery sergeant that firearms qualification badges are not supposed to be worn when wearing the full sized medals.
When purchasing medals, I recommend getting two sets, one mounted for wear, and the other for a display case mounted on the wall.
When you are initially awarded your medals and/or decorations, be sure the accompanying CERTIFICATE and CITATION are included, as those official documents will look especially impressive when properly framed for prominent display on a wall in your home or office.
If your military decorations are lost, stolen, or accidentally destroyed, the Department of Defense will replace them, free of charge, - - - ONCE!
Subsequent replacements of lost, stolen, or damaged military decorations must be at the recipient's own expense.
In other words, you can salute like a soldier, instead of having to place your hand over your heart, like a civilian would.
Do you know the difference between a "medal" and a "decoration"?
Although we generally use those terms interchangeably, they are NOT the same thing.
The definition is determined by the shape of the metallic device which hangs below the ribbon.
If the metallic device is a round disc, it is a "medal".
A metallic device with a distinctive shape, such as a cross or a star, is a "decoration".
Military decorations, service awards, and medals are often mistakenly confused with one another.
Decoration is a term for awards which require specific acts of heroism or achievement, whereas a service award or campaign medal is awarded for serving in a particular capacity in a particular geographical area and time frame.
In either case, an award or decoration may be presented as a medal.
So, don't be embarrassed to wear your medals in public.
Why else were they awarded to you - - - , just so you could keep them hidden in a drawer or on a closet shelf?