Numerous proposed uniform changes and unclear wear-out dates can leave many servicemembers on post scratching their heads with more questions than ever.

Army regulation 670-1 and Air Force instruction 36-2903 are loaded with rules about the wear and appearance of servicemembers both on and off duty. While it is each individual’s responsibility to ensure they are in compliance with the current rules, regardless of the proposed changes, the bigger unclear picture is “why are we changing in the first place?”

“It all boils down to a lack of self-discipline,” said Sgt. 1st Class Jarrod D. Provost, the Headquarters and Headquarters Company 1st Medical Brigade, noncommissioned officer in charge of school assignments. “We need to police one another up at all ranks and not become complacent with our appearance.”

Provost went on to talk about how wearing the uniform was an honor and servicemembers should wear it with pride.

Some rules and policy changes were proposed by sergeant major of the Army Sgt. Maj. Raymond F. Chandler III last year.

Regardless of if or when the proposed changes take place, the Departments of the Army and Air Force say the stricter personal appearance standards have to be tightened now.

Both services’ guidance states that presenting an image of discipline is necessary because the American public and its elected representatives draw certain conclusions about military effectiveness based on a servicemember’s appearance.

Provost explained the most common issue he notices is with the lack of attention to the details in the uniform.

No longer having to press and starch their uniforms or spit-shine their boots has made servicemembers lazy and complacent with their uniform appearance, he added.

“Due to the last 12 years of war, Soldiers have been allowed more relaxed standards while deployed,” said Provost. “These Soldiers bring that relaxed attitude toward the uniform back with them to a garrison environment.”

Some examples of relaxed standards are Soldiers not keeping their pants bloused at the third eyelet of their boots or higher and not shaving every morning. Also, female Airmen not having their ponytails secured properly during physical training and servicemembers wearing unauthorized patches.

Servicemembers can always reference their branch’s regulations or instructions for accurate guidance.  When in doubt, ask unit leaders about uncertainties when dealing with specific standards.  Finally, read all command policy letters for changes that may have been implemented for the wear and appearance for your installation or unit.

“Servicemembers should be conscious of the wear and appearance of their uniform at all times,” said Provost. “Take pride in your uniform, because while wearing it, you are representing yourself, your branch and most of all your country.”