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NEWS | March 19, 2012

Be proud of your occupational badge, wear it

By Chief Master Sgt. Robert Lovett 332nd Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron

As I walk around various installations, I notice many Airmen don't wear their occupational badge. I know, according to AFI 36-2903, Dress and Personal Appearance of Air Force Personnel, Airmen aren't required to wear it, but I encourage them to do so.

First, your occupational badge is an insignia representing your career field. Your career field makes up a significant part of the rich heritage and successful future of our Air Force. Its significance reflects on time honored traditions, values and commitment of all the Airmen and the missions they accomplished in your career field. Your occupational badge represents your technical expertise and certifies your training and valued skills that will help ensure the future of our Air Force remains second to none.

Your occupational badge wasn't given to you. Your first opportunity to earn it could only happen upon your oath of enlistment, followed by weeks of basic military training, and weeks or months of technical school. Then, the Air Force required you to complete Career Field Development Courses while your supervisors and peers developed you through on-the-job training.

The enlisted occupational badges reflect skill levels: three-level apprentice, five-level journeyman, seven-level craftsman and nine-level superintendent. A star and wreath system, worn above the badge denotes which degree or skill level an Airman holds. Bottom line, your occupational badge is your career field's outward identification display and represents your hard earned certification. The badge is unique to your career field which allows other Airmen to recognize your particular career field and your credentials.

Finally, our military badges symbolize a rich history dating back to the Badge of Military Merit, which Gen. George Washington first awarded to Continental Army recipients Aug. 7, 1782. This badge was presented in the form of a purple heart for valor in battle and extraordinary loyalty to the unit.

I encourage you to wear your occupational badge as an outward display of your dedication, training and loyalty to your career field, your unit and our Air Force.

Be proud of your occupational badge and wear it with pride.