We’ve all seen a Veteran’s Day or Fourth of July parade at some point in our lives, and witnessed a parade of military veterans from every branch, service, and conflict since WWII.
You’ve likely noticed that most veterans in their dress uniforms wear ribbon medals which denote different awards earned during combat and other service situations. Here’s a list of a few you have likely seen, whether or not you can recognize them from memory.
Afghanistan Campaign Ribbon
The Afghanistan Campaign Ribbon, or ACM is awarded to any service member who serves at least thirty days inside the country consecutively, 60 days in country non-consecutively, or saw combat while in country no matter their time.
These ribbons are very common, due to the sheer numbers of ground forces who have seen time in the global war on terror since its earliest beginnings back in 2001.
These ribbons are displayed proudly on the dress uniform of many men and women, and have been earned in unimaginable deserts across the globe in situations most people couldn’t imagine. Noted by their red, white and blue center stripes and white, black, and red outer stripes, these ribbons denote a time the wearer should be proud of.
Global War On Terror Service Medal Ribbon
This thin military ribbon was the original award given to service men and women who served time in a wide array of different positions in the homefront in the global War on Terror since September 2001, and is thereby a highly common ribbon to be displayed on the racks of millions of proud men and women. The ribbon bears a blue background with white, red, and gold bars.
Seeing as how so many have served in the ongoing conflict in a stateside capacity, this is sure to be a ribbon worn by many veterans.
Vietnam Service Medal Ribbon
President Johnson established this honor by way of Executive Order in 1965 as a way to recognize troops who served in arguably one of the most decisive wars in American history. It was awarded to soldiers who served in the Vietnam War in Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, and Thailand.
It can be recognized by it’s yellow background with three red bars in the center and green bars lining both ends.
Southwest Asia Service Medal Ribbon
Most Americans alive today can remember the conflicts known as Desert Storm and Desert Shield. With an estimated 1.6 million living veterans, it is certainly a ribbon worn on many racks across the country.
The ribbon can be identified by the tan background with green and black bars in the center, red, white, and blue bars to either side, and black bars on either end of the ribbon.
National Defense Service Medal Ribbon
This is assuredly one of the most common ribbons worn by veterans of American conflicts. It is awarded to those members of the different branches that have served in the last four major theaters.
Veterans of the Korean War, Vietnam War, Gulf War, and the ongoing Global War on Terror are all eligible after having served at least 30 days consecutive duty or 60 days non-consecutive duty, which includes over 28 million eligible vets.
This thin ribbon bears a red background with a gold bar in the center, sorrounded with blue and white bars.
Thin Ribbons Are Badges of Pride
So, the next time you come across a veteran and they’re wearing their ribbons, maybe you can impress them with a little knowledge of just a few of the most common military ribbons that many of the brave men and women in uniform bear. These are badges of pride for their recipients, and they deserve the recognition and so much more.
Next chance you have, ask a veteran with their ribbons on to tell you about them. The sense of contagious pride they’re likely to show for their accomplishments will be well worth the time, and you very well may make a veteran’s day if you do!