Morale Patches: What They Are and Everything You Need to Know

Morale patches are both a practical and at times a humorous method of identification worn on uniforms and gear. The morale patch has transcended its military origin and is utilized by police, first responders, and civilian enthusiasts alike. The morale patch and its various forms have developed into an industry unto itself.

What is a Morale Patch?

A morale patch is a more personal interpretation of the basic identifiers worn on military uniforms. These are typically small pieces made of various materials with some type of identifying designs, words, or markings. Such methods of identification can serve practical purposes, as urban and close in fighting has become more commonplace in recent conflicts. Morale patches are often worn to build esprit de corps and as a way for military members to make light of tough situations.

Why do they use Hook and Loop?

Modern uniforms make extensive use of Velcro or hook-and-loop panels to allow for any number of insignia and identification patches to be worn in an infinite number of ways. This is especially necessary for morale patches, as they are often not authorized and typically display some humorous and often times vulgar phrases and imagery. This necessitates the need to easily add or remove patches from uniforms and gear, thus hook and loop is the best method for such items. The use of hook and loop enables servicemembers to maintain their unique forms of expression while being able to maintain a level of professionalism and easily stow away patches during more formal and serious events.

Why they are Worn? 

Morale patches are typically not officially sanctioned but are informally allowed due to the unique, harsh, and silly experiences most military members face. These odd experiences can easily be joked about and shared with other members, making the more comical morale patches a way for service members to bond with one another. These slightly rebellious items also allow for a bit of lighthearted fun even in the worst of times.

Why is the American Flag Worn Backwards?

Unique to the American military, when the American flag is worn on the right shoulder, it is worn backward, with the stars towards the front. Often times civilians are confused by this, as it appears to be backward. However, the flag is worn like this to symbolize assaulting or moving forward, with the stars towards the front to symbolize the flag flying proudly as progress is made. The American flag is otherwise worn like any other flag when placed anywhere other than the right shoulder.


Morale patches are a fun and diverse uniform item, that transcends countries, services, and languages. Morale patches are not exclusive to military use, and many civilian organizations have also adopted some form of morale patch. Originally developed for identification and tracking purposes, today morale patches serve a less important but still useful purpose.

FAQ about Morale patches

Can civilians wear morale patches?

100% Yes. Some patches may not be appropriate or proper for civilians to wear, but on the whole, they can wear them.

Are morale patches only for the military?

No. Anyone can wear and use morale patches, and plenty of non-military patches are worn by civilians.

Where do you wear morale patches?

Morale patches are sometimes worn on the uniforms, but typically morale patches are placed on bags or gear, so as to not violate uniform standards. During operations or more dynamic environments, these standards are not typically enforced though.

What is an example of a military branch morale patch?

Oftentimes, morale patches that are geared towards combat jobs will incorporate historical references, like the spartan helmet, Norse mythology, or the crusader helmet.

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