When Marine Corps Retirees and Veterans Should Wear Uniforms

Marine Veterans - When And Where To Wear The Marine Uniform

Retired Marine in dress uniform saluting
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After serving their country honorably in the Marine Corps, retirees and veterans are allowed to wear the uniform, but under certain conditions. These conditions are typically special events such as national holidays that honor our military (Veteran's Day, Memorial Day, even July the 4th) as well as weddings, funerals, memorial services, and award ceremonies.

But in the Marine Corps - of course there are specific rules for veterans and retired Marines. The regulation that governs retiree and veteran wearing of the Marine uniform is detailed about when and by whom. Here's a rundown of the specific rules. 

Marine Corps Retirees and Uniforms

It is considered appropriate for a retired Marine officer or Marine veteran to wear the uniform to memorial services, weddings, funerals, balls, patriotic or military parades, ceremonies in which any active or reserve United States military unit is participating, and meetings or functions of military associations.

Retirees, residing or visiting in a foreign country may not wear the uniform except when attending, by formal invitation, ceremonies or social functions at which wear of the uniform is required by the invitation or by the country’s regulations or customs.

Retirees may wear the appropriate uniform or civilian clothing when traveling as passengers aboard MSC ships and AMC aircraft.

Retirees employed in any capacity by a military school, except the MCJROTC program, will not wear the uniform unless specifically authorized by the CMC. Requests for such authority should be addressed to the CMC (MCUB) and will contain a written statement from school officials indicating that the individuals or will be employed there, to include job title.

When such authority is granted, personnel will wear uniforms prescribed for persons of the corresponding grade on the active list. No school or other unauthorized insignia may be worn on the Marine Corps uniform.

Retirees employed as instructors under the MCJROTC program will wear the Marine Corps uniform during school hours and at other appropriate times according to these regulations.

When Retired Marine Officers Should Not Wear the Uniform

The wearing of the uniform is prohibited at meetings or demonstrations connected to or sponsored by an organization or government that has been designated by the U.S. Attorney General to be hostile to the U.S. Constitution. This may include totalitarian, fascist, communist or subversive regimes, or a group seeking to overthrow the U.S. government. 

The Marine uniform also should not be worn during political activities or commercial interests which may suggest endorsement or sponsorship. This also applies to any public speaking, picketing, rallies or other demonstration, unless specifically authorized by military authorities. 

And of course, the Marine uniform should not be worn in circumstances where it would discredit or dishonor the Armed Forces, or any other situation prohibited by Marine Corps regulations. 

Marines who have received the Medal of Honor may wear the Marine Corps uniform at their pleasure, except under the above conditions.

Veterans and the Marine Corps Uniform

Former members of the Marine Corps who served honorably during a declared or undeclared war and whose most recent service was terminated under honorable conditions may wear the uniform in the highest grade held during such war service on the following occasions and when traveling to such occasions: 

  • Military funerals, memorial services, weddings, and inaugurals
  • Parades on national or state holidays; or other parades or ceremonies or a patriotic character in which any active or reserve United States military unit is taking part

Former Marines who are discharged honorably or under honorable conditions from the Marine Corps (even if it's not during wartime service) may wear their uniform while going from the place of discharge to their home of record, within three months after discharge. Wearing the uniform for any other time or purpose is prohibited.

Personal Appearance and the Marine Uniform

Anyone wearing a Marine uniform or uniform of any branch of the U.S. military is expected to maintain high personal appearance standards and esprit de corps, with particular attention paid not only to the correct and military wear of uniform components but also to the individual’s personal and physical appearance.

All personnel wearing a U.S. military service or dress uniform are expected to comply with hair grooming, tattoo regulations, and weight control standards.