In 2022, there were 1.3 million active-duty military service members in the United States. Being part of the U.S. military is considered a special honor by many, and with it comes distinctive uniforms and badges.
Uniform badges have long been used in the military for much more than decoration. Military badges serve to help military members identify many things about each other, including military branch, rank, special distinctions, and more.
If you’re curious about military badges, keep reading. In this guide, we’ll tell you about 7 common military badges and what they mean.
1. Branch Badges
A branch patch is a badge that shows what branch of the military an individual belongs to. It marks whether the military member is part of the Army, the Air Force, the Navy, the Marines, the Space Force, or the Coast Guard.
This type of patch rests directly above a uniform’s left breast pocket and will be useful for identifying which part of the military a person belongs to. Wearing an insignia patch is essential and is one of the most essential patches that an individual will have on their uniform.
2. Name Patches
Name patches are also a mainstay of a military uniform. A name badge will show an individual’s last name so that anyone can easily read it and find out who they are.
Although other badges can be used to determine the characteristics of an individual along with this name badge, the name itself is very important. It can allow a superior, another military member, or a civilian to easily determine who someone is.
Having this information readily available can be very useful for those in the military. It can make things go more smoothly when a member of the military is speaking to others in service of the country.
3. Unit Patches
A unit military badge will be worn by military members who are currently in or who once served in a combat zone. The badge rests on the left shoulder and represents the brigade or division that a military member belongs to.
Various insignias and artwork can show which specific unit a military member is in. This type of patch can be very helpful when in combat and can allow others to easily identify the military branch the wearer belongs to. Army members are required to always wear unit patches.
Senior military members who are no longer serving in combat may continue to wear these patches, and they can provide a sense of belonging.
However, there are other ways to show a sense of belonging in the military as well. It can be a great idea to create custom coins and military badges to symbolize achievements and honor military members.
4. Rank Badges
The rank of a military service member will change throughout their career. A rank patch will signify what a member’s current standing is and will change when they have been promoted to a new rank.
These types of badges will be different depending on the branch of the military a person is in. Some military branches such as the Navy will include both the rank and the rate of an individual in a single patch.
There are a lot of different ranks in the military, but these patches can be very useful for members to determine the rank of others. It can help members easily understand the hierarchy within a military branch.
5. Military Ensign
As part of their uniforms, military service members will also wear the United States flag.
An ensign is located on all uniforms and helps to remind military members of the country that they’re serving and the things that they’re fighting for during their military careers. It’s important to note that the flag on a military uniform doesn’t look quite like the normal flag, but will instead be facing backward instead.
An ensign is an important part of the military uniform. It’s one of the most essential out of all the badges and patches that will appear on it.
6. Skills and Specialization Patches
Tab patches rest above a unit patch on a uniform’s left side and show specializations and additional qualifications.
Individual tabs will be worn by a military service member after earning a special qualification through a course. This could designate that they’re Special Forces or a Ranger, for example. Similarly, military members may also wear patches that show the skills that they have completed. They may have badges that show that they have Airborne, Rigger, Parachuting, or other special skills.
Finally, there could also be badges for the skills and roles of a specific mission. This could include various roles that they’ll take on during a mission, including airborne, mountain, or jungle roles.
7. Service Stripes
Service stripes are also worn by military members and show how long a service member has been serving.
In the United States Army, for example, a member receives a stripe every 3 years. This takes 4 years for other branches of the military such as the Marine Corps and the Navy.
There are a lot of differences in how the different branches award military stripes, but they will rest on either the left or right cuff of a uniform. Additionally, separate stripes may be awarded for general years of service as well as for years of service overseas.
Understanding the Main Types of Military Badges
If you want to have a better understanding of the different types of military badges, be sure to read the information above. Uniform badges and patches are very important to military members but also serve a purpose as well.
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