Posted 09 December 2019 - 06:39 AM
SUBJECT: Shoulder Sleeve Insignia Former Wartime Service (SSI-FWTS)
1. PURPOSE. To provide information on history of Shoulder Sleeve Insignia - Former
Wartime Service (SSI-FWTS).
Custom of wearing SSI-FWTS originated in World War II.
High-point GIs rotating home as casuals to Zone of Interior (CONUS) routinely
were assigned to different returning divisions.
Rotatees, proud of their old "outfit", were reluctant to exchange its SSI for that of
new unit. This was most true of National Guardsmen, also proud of their state.
In 1945, the Army permitted returning personnel to shift their old SSI to the right shoulder, while wearing that of assigned unit on the left. (WD Cir 111, 7 Apr 45)
This was NOT recognition of "combat" but wartime overseas service (it applied equally to front line and rear echelon troops, and active combat overseas areas as well as relatively inactive, i.e. France vs. Panama).
Still assigned personnel would not move their SSI to right shoulder nor wear same SSI on both shoulders. (IAW C7, AR 600-40, 31 Oct 45).
Originally confined to World War II service, the policy was later extended to personnel with overseas service during World War I. (WD Cir 102, 22 Apr 47)
Later, the Army again extended policy to cover subsequent wars, such as Korea (DA 37333, 9 Jan 51) and Vietnam (DA 728961, 19 Aug 65), but not all overseas areas were recognized as eligible for the SSI-FWTS.
During Vietnam, policy to wear same SSI on both shoulders led to unauthorized local practice of altering approved design to create pair. (SR 600-60-1, 26 Oct 51)
Current practice is to "award" right-arm SSI as a sign of "combat" experience, even to currently-assigned personnel; this was not intent of original policy.