JROTC Cadets Wearing Military Service Accouterments

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There is a problem at the JROTC level that has nothing to do with drill- “Education is key!”

There seems to be a severe lack of education with some JROTC instructors regarding the wear of military service items on JROTC uniforms. I have photos of AFJROTC units wearing the Base Honor Guard cookie, which I will not post here. These photos are from 2015 and the issues have been taken care of.

Base Honor Guard in France

This photo, above, was taken by a French friend of mine. It shows me as the NCOIC (commander) of the Color Team from Spangdahlem Air Base in Germany. We were rendering honors at the American Military Cemetery in Brittany, France in 2010. As you can see, my colleagues and I are wearing our Base Honor Guard (BHG) badges that we affectionately call the  “Cookie.” Males wear it on the lower left and females wear it on the upper right. I spent 17 years on a BHG in several locations around the world, training, teaching and rehearsing constantly over those years, three of them while retired. After hundreds of hours of working with your Ceremonial Guardsmen, you have a certain attachment to them and the BHG system as a whole. That attachment can be voiced in ‘owning’ a certain portion of that program by calling it, mine.

All service JROTCs strictly forbid the wear of any item that an Active Duty, Reserve or National Guard member wears. This includes several colors of berets, ribbons, medals, job qualification badges, wings, tabs, etc. JROTC cadets cannot and should not wear any of these items because they are not in the military. The exception to this is if a JROTC enlists and finishes Basic Training before graduating high school. The same goes for my Cookie. Yes, it is not mine specifically, but as I stated earlier, I have a certain attachment to the BHG.

In this specific case, what does it take to be authorized to wear the BHG Cookie? Graduation from USAF Basic Training, graduation from a Technical School (A-School for you non-AF types) assignment to at least your first installation, assignment to the BHG and graduation from your installation’s BHG training program. Therefore, it is impossible for a JROTC or any other cadet to earn and wear the badge without it being along the lines of Stolen Valor. Yes, this is a serious issue.

If your JROTC unit cadets wear any kind of military service item, please stop right now. Your integrity is now at stake, by reading this article, you now know that if you are wearing a BHG cookie or any other device it is absolutely wrong.

There are many creative ways to help set apart cadets who are on drill team, color team or what a unit might call honor guard: shoulder cord, aiguillette, uniform stripes, distinctive ribbons, etc. Click here for more ideas.

ROTC (college) is different. Contracted college cadets are considered “Third Lieutenants” and as such wear the service uniform within the guidelines of their service’s dress and appearance manual.

Military schools have some different standards as well to go along with their distinctive uniforms, just like the service academies.

Let us not forget the distinctive uniform items of Young Marines, Civil Air Patrol, Sea Cadets, Sea Scouts, and other numerous programs. None of these programs allows their cadets to wear distinctive uniform items from their services except when specifically noted in their manual.

And then there are the Police and Fire Explorer Cadets. I think that takes care of all of the cadet programs. But each has it’s own uniform, rank, ribbons, etc. They do not take from the military services something which is blatantly not authorized for wear by anyone else.

No one else except Tomb Guards wear their badge. No one else except the USAF Honor Guard wears the AFHG metal cookie. I think I’ve made my point.

“But other JROTC units are doing it.” This statement does not have a point. Stop doing the wrong thing and educate others.

What it all comes down to is not wearing anything distinctive on a JROTC uniform that is only meant for Soldiers, Marines, Sailors, Airmen or Coast Guardsmen. Please, do the right thing.

Army JROTC/NDCC Instructors and Cadets should read Army Regulation 145–2 and Cadet Command Regulation 145-2.

Marine Corps JROTC/NDCC Instructors should read the MCJROTC Instructor Handbook and Instructors and Cadets should read MCO P1533.6.

Navy JROTC/NDCC Instructors and Cadets should read NAVEDTRA 37116-H.

Air Force JROTC/NDCC Instructors and Cadets should read AFJROTC Instruction 36-2001. HQ AFJROTC also came out with a good bit of information on this. Download that from the Resources page.

Coast Guard CPJLP (JROTC)/MAST/NDCC Instructors and Cadets should read- I can’t find anything as of yet .

NDCC stands for National Defense Cadet Corps. An NDCC unit is just like a JROTC unit but it does not meet certain requirements, most likely student enrollment, and the school district picks up the tab for everything.

Comments 2

  1. Once again, thanks John for educating or reminding the masses. Some soon forget that some accouterments as well as long honored awards have to be earned.

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