3 Military Uniform Rules We’d Love to Break


No one wants to see a Marine look like a 2-liter bottle of soda with a white plastic cap on top.  So we were really glad to see the USMC nix the whole discussion about making everyone wear the Dan Daly cap this fall.

And the Navy really ought to know that any uniform known as “the blueberry” is conveying more of a Willy Wonka vibe than intended.  So the fact that the uniform is highly flammable is just an awesome reason to stop wearing it, right?

While Big Military is considering little military uniform rules (like the ones for tattoos, piercings, sideburns and nail length), we were just thinking that there are three other little bitty nothing changes we would really like to see just for fun:

3 Military Uniform Rules We’d Love to Break

 1. Bring on the PDA. All the services have strict military uniform rules about how making out with someone in uniform is totally inappropriate and unprofessional. This includes, but is not limited to, holding hands (except when holding the hand of a young child), walking arm-in-arm, embracing, caressing, and kissing.

A “modest kiss” is allowed during your wedding. Or graduation. Or homecoming.

You are allowed to take the left arm of your servicemember when he or she is in uniform — as if you are 88-years-0ld and he or she is your grandchild come for a visit between helpings of pudding.

There is absolutely no sneaking anyone in uniform into a corner and making out with them at any time no matter how old you are.

Day-to-day we can see how this is probably a good idea. How could they get any work done if everyone is making out with them all the time?

But how about we get a special Hotness Dispensation when they are in their dress uniforms? You know, like a 24-hour pass to sneak them off behind a pillar in the parking garage and not get in trouble? Sometimes irresistible is just irresistible.

2.  Roll Up Your Sleeves, Please. A while back they decided to change military uniform rules to make Marines keep their sleeves rolled down no matter how hot the weather might be.

While we appreciate the commitment to excellence implied here, and we can value the frequent removal of that blousey thing to reveal the fitted green t-shirt beneath, the rolled sleeve had a certain something going for it that we miss.

Particularly on a Marine.

3. Uniform Recycling. Some servicemembers do get an allowance for uniforms. So when the Pentagon changes the camouflage design, theoretically servicemembers can buy a couple of new ones.

This doesn’t go nearly far enough — and we don’t just mean the money. Because the problem with that kind of uniform change is that you end up with so many uniforms in your closets. The entire Rubbermaid industry has made a fortune on storing uniforms.

The used uniforms apparently sit around guilticizing our readers from dark basements. Spouses are compelled to make something from all that spare fabric — art projects, purses, quilts, ballgowns, paper, jewelry, wreaths, slipcovers.

Next time the uniform changes maybe the military could do a giant recycling project where servicemembers turn in the old uniform and get a new one in return. Then all the old uniforms could be quietly turned into … I don’t know … attic insulation?

It might work (with the exception of those flammable uniforms, please). Because in one way or another, military uniforms have been keeping servicemembers and their loved ones warm for years–and we appreciate it.

About the Author

Jacey Eckhart
Jacey Eckhart is the former Director of Spouse and Family Programs for Military.com. Since 1996, Eckhart’s take on military families has been featured in her syndicated column, her book The Homefront Club, and her award winning CDs These Boots and I Married a Spartan?? Most recently she has been featured as a military family subject matter expert on NBC Dateline, CBS morning news, CNN, NPR and the New York Times. Eckhart is an Air Force brat, a Navy wife and an Army mom. Find her at JaceyEckhart.net.
  • Carmen

    Cut down on the number of uniform items you need to stuff in a seabag! Blue, white and green tshirts, black and white socks, different cover for everything…it’s maddening!
    Oh, and I prefer the term Aquaflage over blueberries. Makes them seem a little less Barney-ish!

    • Gruntvet

      With the Navy having the blueberries it makes the ACU look that much better.

      • brittanyj

        ditto for the air force’s ABUs with the horribly placed pen pocket on the left forearm…

        • Gruntvet

          The ABU’s are the worst thing to happen to the AF. they are beyond FUGLY. I feel for anyone that wears them.

  • Matt

    Just a quick caution before you take scissors to an obsolete camo pattern item in the basement: make sure it is NOT OCIE or on a hand receipt. There are a lot of things that look like uniforms but are actually “equipment”. A lot of flame retardant stuff looks just like acu but will cost a few hundred bucks when they cannot be produced when the Soldier ETSs or retires. Those $1,000 FLIPLs are crappy retirement gifts.

  • MajorDad

    If you sneak him off behind a pillar in the parking garage and nobody sees, it ain’t PDA.

  • Kelly

    How about umbrellas? I think they look dumber walking around soaking wet than they would carrying an umbrella. If they made the umbrella standard black I just don’t see the problem.

    • Matt

      The problem with umbrellas is that they really can spook horses. Since the Army relies so heavily on horses for moving the guns and for hauling the entire logistical train, not to mention all the cavalry mounts, we are just going to have to do without umbrellas until we can figure out some way of replacing the horses.

      • Amy_Bushatz



        My grandfather had his mules to well trained to be spooked, when he was hauling equipment for Black Jack Pershing in Mexico after Poncho Villa.

    • brittanyj

      the air force allows umbrellas however i find few men who would actually use one rather than walk around soaked…my husband has only ever carried an umbrella when I was still in the air force and when our daughter walks with him.

  • Guest

    About changing uniforms! My biggest gripe about this (but, I’m retired…) is that WHEN I was active, I had to buy not 1 or 2 uniforms – but several. The cost of uniforms eats away a family budget in no time. Uniform allowance is for maintenance and replacement over a long period of time. That allowance is meager – in perspective to the cost of ONE uniform nowadays. “Used-ta-be” — we had one pattern of fatigues, but were issued as part of our tactical gear, several sets of “field” gear. If these uniforms were torn to bits while in a tactical situation, replacement was “issued” to the GI. Under current rules – that GI must replace the uniform out of pocket.

  • Guest

    Ooops! I have no idea why my comment appeard 3X. Sorry ’bout that, Jack.

  • dcanaday

    How about allowing us to leave the reflective belt at home if we are exercising in broad daylight?

  • buck

    How about an allowance for professional attire ? Suit and tie BS that we’re supposed to attend and be professionals.

  • RWS

    I always wondered why the Navy would want a camouflage uniform that would make anyone who fell overboard blend into the sea.