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How Do Military Personnel Feel About Camouflage Jerseys?

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Sports teams have been wearing camouflage uniforms to honor the military for the better part of a decade now. Fans have their own reactions, but what about the people supposedly being honored? Uni Watch recently invited active and former U.S. military personnel to share their thoughts about the camouflage uni phenomenon. About 60 of them responded. Their thoughts are shown below. — Paul Lukas


“As a former member of the U.S. Navy who wore camo as a uniform, I don’t have an issue with it. I believe it is a nice gesture to our Soldiers, Sailors, Marines and Airmen (oh, and Coasties too… can’t forget them). The teams are not wearing a faithful replication of the actual dress or working uniform, just a camo print. Were teams to wear an actual uniform or a representation thereof, that would be out of line.” — Dave Allen

“I am a U.S. Army Bosnia/Iraq vet and I served at the World Trade Center on 9-11-01 with the N.Y. Army National Guard. I am really tired of all the weak expressions of support for the military, whether they be “Support the troops” bumper stickers, bland Republicans shouting “Democrats hate the troops,” or camo uniforms. I would much rather hear that the players are visiting wounded vets at their local VA hospitals and donating the money they used to spend on camo unis to homeless vets.” — Eric Ando

“Having served five years in the Air Force, I do not see any issue with teams wanting to show support for the military by donning camo uniforms. However (and this is a monumental however), If the team decides to sell said camo jerseys, all proceeds should be donated to some veterans organization. ”¦ And it should be all the proceeds (not like that debacle with the MLB stars-and-stripes cap where only ‘a portion’ is donated).” — Jonathan Backstrom

“I am generally against [the camo uniforms], not for any reason that relates to the military, but just because they look stupid. ”¦ If teams want to honor the military, wear a patch or let us in for free (we’ll buy overpriced burgers and beer).” — Kurt Baker

“As a former military member (Air Force), it’s always good to know that you, the people that you served with, and the military branch you served under are remembered. Personally though, I think camo just doesn’t look good in a sporting context. After all, it was designed to be nondescript, blurring the edges of the person’s profile. ”¦ After 20 years of wearing camouflage and working with people wearing it, not to mention an entire military installation wearing it, I really don’t want to see it on a sporting team.” — Kevin Blair

“Having just come off active duty in the Marine Corps, I am a huge fan of teams wearing camouflage uniforms as long as they are in honor of our military. ”¦ But if a team wears these uniforms, they should make it a point to honor our military, not just wear them as a fashion statement (the new fashion of wearing hip-hop camouflage). Whether they offer free tickets, a special presentation prior to the game, or something else, I think some element of added recognition is important.” — Parker Burke

“I just got out of the Army for the second time in October of 2008. I have no problem at all with any team wearing a camo uniform as long as it is accurate as to the current uniform that the particular service is wearing at the time. One thing I would really like to see would be each player wearing a different unit patch like the Army and Navy football teams wear on their uniforms.” — Tony Caliguiri

“While stationed at NAB Corondo [in the early 2000s], I got to see some of the Padres’ military appreciation days. At the time, I liked it. I didn’t know of anyone else who did it at the time, and it was OK by me. Six years later and this thing turns my stomach. Teams trying to pony up to patriotism as if a game referred to as the ‘national pastime’ didn’t get there already.” — Rich Canulli

“I was in the Air Force from 2001 to 2006. My general take on [teams wearing camo] is that as a simple uni question, then you shouldn’t do it. But I’m a uniform purist — I would prefer that every team has one home uniform, one road uniform, and that’s it. No alternates, period. However, if you’re going to open Pandora’s Box and start having alternate uniforms, I don’t see the big deal [about having a camo alternate]. What rational reason would a person have to oppose camo unis but be fine with green unis for Earth Day or St. Patty’s Day?” — John Cary

“As a career Marine who is an absolute baseball fanatic, I don’t have a problem with teams wearing camouflage uniforms occasionally as a tribute to the military. The only thing I would request is that the camo pattern be accurate to what the military wears. NASCAR actually gets this right when they paint their cars in a camo pattern.” — Terence A. D’Alesandro

“I have been in the Air Force for the last 18 years, and I like the idea behind supporting the military and our sacrifices for the country. Most of these special uniform events are usually tied to some sort of Military Appreciation Day or Series, with military members and their families getting discounted tickets and other special offers. While some of these special uniforms are not the best looking, they’re usually auctioned off for military-related charities.” — Rob Diaz

“I’m a veteran of the Iraq war and honestly, I couldn’t care less about camouflage uniforms. I’m just confused as to what the purpose of it is? It can’t be to sell more jerseys, because I refuse to believe anyone would volunteer to pay for those things.” — Stephen Dietrich

“As an veteran of the Army, I have no problem with teams wearing camo when they play. But they need to keep in mind that they are doing it in respect to all military personnel, past and present, so they need to present themselves in a very profession and tidy manner. I don’t want to see Manny or Belichick wearing them and looking like slobs.” — Amy Elliott

“Personally, I don’t like it when teams wear camo. Not for the reason you would thin, but because they look like crap! Seriously, I have never seen a good-looking camo alt uni. Even the service academies should never where them. If baseball teams want to honor the military, take a page from Ebbets Field Flannels (my favorite shop, ever) and go with a 3rd Army Red Circlers jersey, or the 7th Army Air Force jersey, or my personal favorite, the 1944 Coast Guard Surf Riders jersey. Seriously I wish someone had gotten smacked upside their head when they come up with the camo idea.” — Ted Ellis

“I served in the United States Army Corps of Engineers from 1994-1996, and I think camouflage baseball uniforms are an abomination. The Padres in particular look like they’re either going to an auto show down at the convention center, or they’re rushing out on a last-minute hunting trip. ”¦ A much more appropriate gesture would be the wearing of unit patches or crests. Instead of wearing their K-Mart-pattern camo unis, the Padres could, and ought to, wear something either on their hats or their sleeves indicative of the units serving in the San Diego area. ”¦ The best appreciation for any service member is no recognition at all, beyond the basic baseball uniform. Having people go about their daily business with no fear or worry of a nation in collapse (from within or without). If they want to be appreciative of military members, give them free admission to one game per week. Not just once a year, but once a week.” — Worthy Evans

“I served in the U.S. Army Infantry during Desert Storm and I think the camo uniforms are stupid-looking. Additionally, they are a little offensive. As you are probably aware, uniform guidelines in the military are very strict and filled with history and tradition. Frequently, the camo patterns used by these teams are not the patterns used by the military. If a soldier were to join formation wearing a foriegn pattern, he would be asked to change immediately and it wouldn’t be polite. The jerseys they wear come off looking more Redneck Wedding than military. Seeing them reminds me of watching war movies with my dad (he did 30 years in the Navy). If the uniforms in the movie were incorrect, he would gripe about it the whole time or simply walk out. It’s like going to a July 4th celebration and all the flags have 16 stripes and 58 stars.” — Roger Faso

“As a nine-year active member of the Army, I always notice the continued inaccuracy of these military tributes. Why are the White Sox and Padres paying homage to troops by taking the field in camouflage that’s outdated and no longer an accurate representation of what today’s military looks like? I would personally like to see ‘Padres’ or ‘White Sox’ on an ACU-patterned uniform. Make that happen and finally this soldier will be able to accept the tribute and homage as it is intended.” — John R. Follett

“I served on active duty in the Air Force from 1980 to 1984 and am still a civil service employee of the Air Force. ”¦ I don’t have any objection to baseball teams wearing camouflage uniforms other than I don’t think it’s all that great aesthetically. ”¦ If the intent is to show loyalty and appreciation for the armed forces, it’s no more objectionable than fans who wear replica jerseys of their favorite team/player to show their loyalty and appreciation.” — Lee Fuell

“I loved the camouflage uniforms when I was stationed with the Navy in San Diego, but there’s a special connection to the military in San Diego. It was respectfully, tastefully, and sparingly done (maybe once or twice a season on military appreciation day, which I attended a couple of times). It probably has gotten out of hand, but who am I to say? The troops probably appreciate it.” — Christopher J. Geis

“As a veteran of Iraqi Freedom, I think the only teams that should be wearing camo are the military academies. I really enjoyed Army’s camo unis in last year’s Army/Navy football game. But having more and more teams wearing camo just dilutes the purpose. It’s a good thought but it needs to stop.” — Jason Gomez

“While I appreciate the sentiment of recognizing service members, this gesture has sort of gone off the rails. For one thing, honoring ‘the Military; is pretty broad. There are 5 branches of the armed forces, each with distinct uniforms, and to honor all of them with one desert camouflage pattern is shallow. Which brings me to my next point: Would it kill these teams to do a little research and find out that the desert camouflage pattern of the White Sox or Padres hasn’t been used by the military for some time? Get it right or don’t bother.” — Stuart Greenlee

“I had a brief stint in the Navy. I generally don’t like the camos — not because they’re inappropriate, but (1) they look fairly hideous when combined with the team’s typical uniform, and (2) they rarely use camo patterns actually used by the U.S. military. ”¦ If it were allowed for the players to use actual BDUs [battle dress uniforms] for their uniforms, instead of these polyester chimeras, I’d find that more acceptable. But I’m sure that there’s probably some drawback to going with the baggier BDUs while playing baseball.” — Ed Hahn

“I served in the Air Force back in the late ’90s. I’m proud to have served (even though my time was limited — young and dumb) and I have no problem at all with a team honoring the men and women who serve and have served in the armed services. I am a fan of the Padres camo unis.” — Marcus Hall

“As a United States Marine and a veteran of the Iraq War, I enjoy whenever a sports team decides to display their support for our military. I will always be a fan of seeing the generic camo jersey designs, but I am on the fence when it comes to a team using our Marine-specific camouflage pattern. The title of Marine, and everything that goes with it (uniforms, insignia, etc.), is something that each of us has to earn through blood, sweat, and tears, so we can be a bit fanatic about who is allowed to don our uniform (or its likeness). Once a uniform becomes Marine-specific, the players become representatives of our family and their actions during that game reflect not only upon themselves and their team but also upon the United States Marine Corps. In the end, though, as long as the uniform is designed by someone with a brain (please, God, don’t let Jacksonville design a camo uni anytime soon) and the players treat the uniforms with respect, then I would have no problem with a team deciding to display their support in that manner.” — William Hardy

“I have been serving in the US army for the last four and a half years. Theoretically, I have no issue with teams wearing camo uniforms. I mean, I appreciate what they are trying to do. But the problem is they all look stupid. I cannot think of a way that a team could do such a design without it looking ridiculous.” — Kyle Harris

“I was in the 10th Mountain Division of the United States Army and here is my take on the camo uniforms: STOP IT!!!! PLEASE JUST STOP IT!! I know these teams are trying to honor our service members, but this is the wrong way to do it. These uniforms are abysmal, they never have a camo pattern that’s remotely realistic, and it comes off as a cheesy attempt at fashion rather than an honor. I cannot tell you how many times I have cringed when seeing a Padres camo uni on SportsCenter. If I could design the unis for the teams that choose to have a military theme, I would simply add the patches of [military] units to the uniforms. This is done on the Army and Navy football uniforms and it’s a classy nod to the many historical units of our military. ”¦ I can’t imagine any soldier feeling any connection to those camo unis, yet I am sure there would be a sense of excitement or pride in seeing your unit patch on your favorite team’s jersey.” — Ryan Hill

“It’s fine. The reminder and appreciation is nice. I wanted us to wear one as a special uniform (heck, we could have just worn our actual military uniforms) when I played baseball at West Point (1998-2002). But it’s annoying when they mess up the camouflage pattern. And don’t try to match a brown hat with a desert pattern — that’s pretty lame.” — Kyle Kalkwarf

“I was active duty military years ago. I generally do not mind the MLB teams wearing camo uniforms or similar on ‘support our military’ games. There’s no question that they are trying to sell tickets (and hot dogs, and beer, etc.), but if they give a tip of the hat to the military in doing so, I think that’s a good thing.” — John Kimmerlein

“As a current member of Army, I appreciate the idea behind it, but it’s not very visually appealing 90% of the time. I think the Padres camo is atrocious, for example. The only time I think it has looked good in the past was last year’s Army/Navy game, with the Army’s ACU uniform pattern. That was truly a good look on a sports uniform. I just think there are better, non-cliched ways of honoring the military than slapping on a camo uni top.” — Kevin Kirk

“I served in the Navy (active duty) from 2000-2004. I for one can’t stand all the stupid gimmicks (for lack of a better word) that come with ‘military appreciation nights’ at ballparks. Love of one’s country is a great thing, and SHOULD be shown respect — I mean, how much more Americana can you get than being at the ballpark? But I think things are getting carried away. Plan and simple, camo jerseys and/or camo caps just don’t belong on the diamond. I totally get the message they are trying to send (and as veteran, I thank them for that), but it’s starting to look like waaaay to cheesy out there.” — Matt Krantz

“I was in the Navy from 1989-1994. I was also a Navy brat and my brother-in-law is currently serving in the Navy, so I’ve been around military uniforms my whole life. I, for one, abhor the use of camouflage for anybody except the military. I hate it. I will not buy anything camouflage-related for anybody. I don’t know if it’s due to some sort of military upbringing or respect for the military, I just know it looks stupid. So I think it’s a dumb idea for baseball teams to wear camouflage uniforms. It is not only a weird tribute but it is also NEVER pulled off correctly and ALWAYS looks retarded.” — Mike Lajoie

“Call me a pessimist, but I feel like [the camo uniforms are] only done now to move merch under the guise of patriotism. It just rubs me the wrong way. It seems that since 9/11, everyone wants to show the troops how much they are appreciated, which is nice. If the professional sports leagues and universities want to give perks to current/former military members, hey, I’m all for that. But enough with all the faux patriotism. ”¦ I did not join the military out of some feeling of patriotism in the mid-’80s. I did it because it provided me an opportunity to finish my education. I ended up serving for 20 years and during a few wars, but that was my job. I was not a hero. Most who serve are not.” — W. Greg Lamm

“My wife is active duty Air Force. When I showed her a pic of the Padres in camo uniforms a few years ago, she said they ‘don’t deserve to wear that.'” — Greg Mac

“I don’t have a problem with the camo uniforms. I appreciate the recognition for the armed forces. It’s good for people to see the desert camo as a reminder of where our troops are.” — John S. Massingill

“As a Vietnam-ara Army vet, I’m only too happy to weigh in on the camo uniforms nonsense. I consider them to be the visual equivalent of the divas who take 35 minutes to sing the national anthem — excessive, distracting, and distasteful”¦ I have no problems with professional teams extending special deals to members of the military, or acknowledging their service and presence. But to assume the camo look to play a game seems insulting and dismissive to those who wear the real thing to work. After all, the umpire says, ‘Play ball,’ not ‘Incoming!'” — Larry McClemons

“I am a 10-year veteran of the Air Force. Ted Williams never needed a camo uniform to let us know that he appreciated our troops. He sacrificed years of his career and was a genuine Marine Corps hero when he was not adding to his hits total. Other athletes from that era also spent time in our service. But Aside from Pat Tillman, we don’t have any of our modern athletes volunteering . Wearing a camo uniform because the team’s marketing department thinks it would be a nice thing does not carry the same meaning to me. Suffice to say, I detest the camo uniforms. I find it forced and insincere on behalf of the teams and the players. It feels very ‘me too’ and ‘PC’ and, worst of all, marketing-driven. I also believe that to wear a military uniform, you have to EARN it. ”¦ I appreciate more meaningful and genuine gestures, like when athletes travel to Iraq, Afghanistan, Korea, or anywhere our men and women serve. I appreciate athletes who quietly and without fanfare visit wounded troops at Walter Reed or Wilford Hall or other military medical centers.” — John McEnaney

“I proudly served eight years in the Navy (’99-’07) and I think it’s fantastic that teams want to show support for the military by having an alternate uniform! The key to this alternate uniform is simple: You must have the American flag prominently displayed on the uniform, because that’s why we joined. If you don’t show Old Glory in plain view, you’re just another hunter in the hills looking for deer.” — Elijah Netting

“I am a Desert Storm veteran and am 100% for honoring all the armed forces. But I think all the camo unis look hideous. I’d rather see teams wear unit patches, like the players wear in the Army/Navy game.” — Michael M. Ocampo

“My feeling on the camo uniforms is this: If it’s done in a manner and a setting that honors members of the armed forces, then I have no issue with it whatsoever, and think it’s a unique way of honoring our soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines. ”¦ If it’s merely another ploy, as we’ve seen with other types of unis in the past, where it’s merely a marketing tool to sell more merchandise, then I think it’s crass and duplicitous.” — Patrick O’Halloran

“I am a Lieutenant in the U.S. Navy. ”¦ I certainly don’t have any problems with teams wearing a camo equivalent uniform for some sort of Military Appreciation Night, even if the uniform screams hideous. Some teams, like San Diego, have a much more prominent military fan base due to location, which warrants wearing the camo uniform. But it would be kind of weird to see the Texas Rangers, for instance, sport camo. So even though it may look totally ridiculous, I think in this post 9-11 world that we live in, it’s nice to see support for any type of first responder, be it police, fire, or military.” — Mike Palladino

“The only people who should wear military uniforms, camouflage or not, are those in the active military, national guard or the ready reserve. Veterans, you will find, only wear uniforms on days they appear in parades or formal functions for Veterans Day, Memorial Day, or service-related holidays like the Marine Corps birthday or Navy week. Everthing else is crap, from baseball players wearing camouflage uniforms to college kids wearing a field jacket or Army coat. You’ll find most veterans don’t brag or flaunt their service. They just did their duty as many thousands of Americans have in years gone by. Semper Fi!” — Brian Perryman

“I’ve been in the Air Force for almost 19 years and I don’t really have a problem with baseball teams wearing camo uniforms to show their support of the military. ”¦ One thing I’ve noticed, though, is that when a team wears camo, they stick with an older desert pattern. Over the years each branch has developed their own unique camo uniforms. It started with the Marines’ digital pattern, followed by the Army, then the Air Force, and finally the Navy. How about honoring each branch of the military by wearing a camo pattern that matches what’s actually worn? Or how about going all out like this?” — Jim Polacek

“Former USAF here. They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and I believe the camo uniforms to be honorable in their intent, as well as the result. Anything that honors military service is fine by me. Besides, I think they look really cool.” — Karl Poterack

“It’s a nice gesture, but it’d be nice if the teams got it right. The White Sox and Padres (the only teams I’ve seen wearing camo unis) most closely resemble the Navy’s desert camouflage uniforms. ”¦ [but] the vast majority of Americans in the fight these days wear either the Marine or Army digitals camouflage pattersn. Navy SEALS are the highest-profile folks who consistently wear the Sox/Padres style. I can’t blame major leaguers for identifying with those guys, but if MLB teams truly want to honor the typical American warrior, they should break out the digitals.” — Seamus M. Quinn, U.S. Marine Corps

“I’m a current Air Force officer, and my father is a retired Air Force officer. While we don’t have any problems with the camo uniforms from an ideological standpoint, the execution just comes off as somewhat silly most of the time.” — Brian Ray

“I was in the army for four years in the early ’90s. I think when the Padres did their military recognition though the camo jerseys, it was a great idea. They did it for one game and it coincided with military appreciation day at the ball park, not wearing them to the point that it becomes a third uni. It seemed to me a heartfelt tribute, and not a cash-in opportunity to sell more jerseys. It also happened before 9/11, before anyone who questioned overt patriotism was portrayed as hating America. I think the myriad teams that try this now are pandering to that overt patriotism and the message is lost. There are ways to honor the military without putting on a camo uni.” — Brian Ristau

“I served in Iraq from April 2003 to March 2004. So, camo uniforms: I think they’re silly, and they’re harmless. If you want to really support veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan, you may want to think about donating to a charity like Fisher House, which helps family members spend time with veterans and active-duty service members when they’re sick or injured. Or donate to Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, which runs projects to help returning service members cope with the return to the home front. ”¦ But here’s the thing: A team like the Chicago White Sox spends millions on sundry costs. I don’t know how much they spent on the camo unis, and the associated merchandise that they’ll try to move, but let’s say it’s $1 million, plus whatever the take is from the gate for the day(s) that they do this promotion. What if, instead of all that fanfare, that money was donated to the charities I just mentioned? A million dollars may not make a difference to the White Sox, but it would be HUGE to, say, Fisher House.” — Rafael Noboa Rivera

“I’m an active duty Staff Sergeant in the Marines, and I don’t care if sports teams wear camo or not. The overwhelming majority of them aren’t accurate patterns, and military camo uniforms are designed for work/combat. It’s nice that sports franchises do this sort of thing, but at the same time, it’s just another cause (Jackie Robinson, breast cancer, first responders, etc.).” — Jesse Rogers

“As a retired naval officer, I am of two minds on the wearing of camo uniforms. In some cities, like San Diego or Huntsville, Alabama, there’s a history of a relationship between the military and the teams, [and the teams] have promotions that provide the military and their families with affordable entertainment. From what I have observed, when teams in these cities wear camo unis, the military reacts favorably and actually does feel a kinship and an appreciation for the gesture. ”¦ But I do have problems with the cheesy annual ‘wearing of the camos’ when it’s obvious that it’s nothing more than a PR stunt pandering to the lowest common denominator. To be quite honest, I am somewhat offended by the wearing of camo unis by the majority of the teams.” — Charles Rosecrans

“I am active duty Air Force and appreciate the sentiment in wearing the camo, but please make it stop! The majority of the designs are absolutely terrible. I would much rather see a patch/flag hybrid on the unis.” — Shannon Rutter

“I’ve been in the Air Force for 13 years. A decade ago, when the Padres would trot out their camo unis, I thought it was perhaps a bit on the tacky side but it didn’t really bother me. But all the camouflage designs definitely seem over-the-top now and it certainly feels like a pure exercise in marketing. But then the whole ‘support the troops’ meme is a bit tired anyway.” — Derek Schin

“I have no issue with teams wearing a camo pattern to help ‘support the troops.’ The only issue that I have is that the ‘DCU’ pattern that you usually see, which is the tan camo, is not used by any branch anymore. So, basically they are supporting the military from about three years ago.” — Brandon L. Schwartz

“I am a current member of the Maryland Army National Guard and have served full-time for 19 years (including deployments to Desert Storm, Bosnia, Kosovo, and Iraq). I generally like it when teams wear camouflage, as a part of a ‘Military Appreciation’ game, but it sometimes bothers me when a team wears a camouflage pattern that isn’t in current use in the military.” — Frank J. Seitz

“As an Army combat veteran, I very much appreciate the gesture and tribute to all veteran’ on the part of the teams. Granted, most of the camouflage designs are pretty ugly and not terribly accurate, with the exception of what the Army football team wore against Navy last fall. I thought that looked pretty cool. ”¦ All in all, I’m in favor of it and I think it’s nice way to bring attention to what veterans, many of whom did a heck of a lot more than I did, mean for this country.” — Dan Smith

“I was in the enlisted Air Force for five and a half years. I love the idea of military appreciation days, and generally anything that shows the support for our troops here and abroad. But I believe the teams deciding to wear camouflage patterns should adopt more than just the desert-theme ‘throwback’ army uniforms, now that the branches have their own distinct uniform patterns.” — Adam Triesler

“I served in the Marines (peace time — cold war). The camos are OK by me as long as it is for respect and not an MLB money deal. The special patriotic hats suck.” — Tom Turner

“I’ve been in the Army for a little over 12 years. I appreciate the thought and tribute behind teams wearing military-themed uniforms, but I have yet to see one that didn’t look horrible. I hate to criticize without providing a viable alternative, but I think they should find another, more aesthetically pleasing, way to express their patriotism.” — Jon Vieira

“I’m a very recent Navy vet and I’ve spent a lot of time in San Diego. While I’ve always thought the camo uniforms were aesthetically gross and perhaps a little irreverent, I’ve always thought they were a nice gesture. ”¦ I think it’s great that the White Sox are doing it now (this coming from a Cubs fan) — it fits their blue-collar image and they’re known for ugly uniforms anyway, so aesthetics be damned. I don’t want it to be a league-wide thing, though, because then it feels more like gimmickry than a tribute.” — Matthew Watts

“Greetings from Camp Spann, Afghanistan. I like that the players wear the camo uniforms, even if they aren’t always that cool to look at. It’s a nice nod to those in uniform.” — Thomas Zaremba