This is why soldiers wear unit patches
Each branch of the military has a different way to show their unit pride. U.S. Army soldiers wear easily identifiable patches (a shoulder sleeve insignia (SSI)) on the left shoulder of their combat uniform.
The SSI shows the current duty station that the soldier is attached to. If the soldier has deployed to a designated combat zone, they can also slap that unit patch onto the right shoulder to wear for the rest of their career.
This leads to a little game soldiers play, reminiscent of kids playing with trading cards, where they trade unit patches with one another or leave one with the Bangor Troop Greeters.
Depending on the unit, this may be for regiment, brigade, or division — with the patch being from to the highest distinct echelon (so if you were in the 101st Airborne, you would wear the 101st patch and not the XVIII Airborne Corps patch).
The patch was conceived to inspire unit pride and to identify other soldiers in the unit. The first to adopt a shoulder patch was the 81st Infantry Division in 1918. When they deployed to France shortly after adopting it, their patch drew much disdain from other units in the American Expeditionary Force.
Also read: 13 of the best military morale patches
The “Wildcat” Division’s unit patch was brought to the attention of Gen. John J. “Blackjack” Pershing by a fellow officer because it was unbecoming of the uniform. After some consideration, the only American to be promoted to General of the Armies in his lifetime decided that the 81st should keep their unit patch and suggested other divisions to follow suit. The patch became officially recognized on Oct. 19, 1918, and many more followed shortly after.
Ever since then, soldiers have a treasured relationship with their unit patches (and even more if they deployed with them.) Through their patch, they stand tall among their brothers in arms of the past — adding to their legacy.
How a Christmas-gift-to-be turned into a booming vet-owned business
Looking for the perfect gift for the salty veteran in your life and fast running out of ideas? Put those 72 koozies down and check out Medals of America.
This wounded warrior is turning steel into gold in Alabama
Colin Wayne went from an Army National Guardsman to a fitness model to...a steel worker? Wayne’s company, Redline Steel, creates art from steel.
3 leadership lessons that will take you from the battlefield to the boardroom
Col. Ted Studdard never imagined he'd have a 25-year career in the Marines, but he's got some pro tips to share now that he's a bonafide "mustang."
How a soldier went to war with his unique brand of Cuban-style cigars
Blanco Cigar, a company built and run by a first generation American with Cuban roots, has its ups and downs, but generated over a million dollars in 2017.
6 crazy things actually found in boot camp amnesty boxes
Upon arriving at boot camp, the staff gives newbies a chance to toss prohibited items into the "amnesty box." Want to know what's inside?
Why your next battle buddy might be a robot armed with a railgun
The Army has quite a Christmas wishlist for Uncle Sam Claus, and it's filled with all kinds of goodies like robots, light tanks, and lasers.
Here's why some Corpsmen are considered Marines, and some aren't
A sailor earning respect from a Marine is a tough challenge. It's a special privilege to have a Marine tell you happy birthday each Nov. 10.
Here are the changes to the combat uniform the Army is testing right now
The Army will be testing new uniforms and boots beginning in 2018, better suited for hotter environments. Here's what's different about them.
The Navy will pump out more attack subs to counter Russia and China
The Navy had previously decided to slow production of Virginia-Class submarines, but has now decided to produce more in order to keep up with rivals.