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> updated 28/01/15


Boy Scout Uniform Right Side Honor Guard

Honor Guard

The BSA introduced a new badge of participation and identification on 26 Jan 2015: the Honor Guard badge. Similiar to the Musician badge, the Honor Guard badge recognizes those Scouts who are serving as members of a unit, district, or local Council Honor Guard. Almost immediately I started to receive inquiries here as well on my personal email asking several questions, the leading one is as follows from Meredith:

Hi Mike!! When you can, can you please tell me about this new badge? I read some information about it on a blog from SCOUTING magazine but I want to know for sure two things: one, is this something that any Scout can earn and wear; and two, does this new badge allow Scouts to earn Eagle because they can use it as a position they need. In our Troop, we don't have positions for many of our boys, and they are sitting around waiting for someone to move out of a position or to earn Eagle. Thank you for everything you do to help us out!"

Hi Meredith!! Indeed the BSA, acting on some great input from a Troop in Maryland, created a special piece of insignia to single out those Scouts who are serving as a member of a unit or District/Council Honor Guard. Here's what the emblem looks like:

Honor Guard badge
Honor Guard badge

To answer some questions:

“Why is this only for Troops?” The simplest answer is “because our Troops are most frequently requested to serve in that capacity”. Not to say that a Cub Scout Pack or a Venturing Crew do not ask to serve as a honor guard, just that the majority of the organizations request a “Scout Troop” to perform this honor.

There is a longer explaination, from the Scouter whose Troop made the suggestion to the BSA's Insignia and Uniforming Task Force:

I am the Scoutmaster of Troop 944 that suggested the concept and several versions of design. The patch idea was from our SPL and a number of Scouts in the Troop.

The intent was and is for Scouts that are trained and regularly participate in community events as an Honor Guard. This would include ceremonies for Wounded Warriors, religious events, Flag ceremonies for organizations, etc. It was suggested that it is NOT for Scouts that only serve as color guards in Troop meetings.

A person suggested that this has some rank equivalent – that is not the purpose. Hopefully every Council & District will use the Honor Guard patch concept to recognize both the organization being attributed as well as Scouts that serve conduct themselves following the Scout Law and Oath. (Thanks to you and your Scouts!!)

“What’s the guidelines — do we just give them a patch and say “congratulations!” or is there any training which goes along with this before we give it out?”

The emblem is not designed to be anything but a recognition and identification piece. It was not designed to be a “Troop leadership position” (hence, where the emblem is located on the shirt). Units are responsible for training and coaching anyone wearing the emblem — and as someone else noted here on the blog, that training may take the form of a formalized training session by “someone experienced in conducting flag ceremonies” or just a review of the US Code and other documents dealing with flag ceremonies (like the Boy Scout handbook).

Musicians just have to be a member of a unit, District or Council musical group, drum and bugle corps, or similar organization to wear the Musician patch. Honor Guard holders just have to be a member of a unit, District or Council honor guard. I agree…there’s some baseline training and coaching which should be done…but let’s give our units, Districts and Councils some credit, eh?

“Will there be a book or manual for those serving on honor guards?”

No. This is not a leadership position or position of responsibility; this is a voluntary unit commitment.

Those who want a book or manual, I would point you to an excellent but OLD manual the BSA produced back in the 40s called (and which I've excerpted the three key chapters which apply to Honor Guards) “Scout Courtesy, Customs and Drills” which was part of the BSA’s “service library”. Half of the book deals with how to organize, staff and conduct various forms of honor guard service, including commands. You could probably find a copy of the complete booklet on eBay or one of those auction sites.

“Why can’t adults wear this patch? Will there be an "advisor" or "guide" patch?”

Two reasons why adults cannot wear it: One, because adults are not asked to serve as honor guards for community or social events; and two, because this emblem is intended to recognize SCOUTS who serve in this capacity on a routine basis. There is no plan to create an "advisor", "guide" or "adult version" of this emblem.

“When a Scout no longer serves as a honor guard member, can he keep the patch on his shirt as a recognition item?”

That’s a unit answer and responsibility. Like with Musicians, if one no longer is serving actively in that role, the patch should be removed and retained by the Scout as a memento of his experience and service. Some units may choose to have Scouts to keep it on their shirts (and to call upon them when their services are needed).

“Why was this emblem created if it can be awarded in such a vague manner?”

The short answer is because we hope that over time, you — those who use the emblem in the field — will provide enough feedback to the Task Force as to its utilization; and that you will provide some suggestions on how specifically it should be worn. Once again — this is NOT AN AWARD — like the Musician’s emblem, it is a recognition and service emblem.

The longer answer is that the BSA left to the unit as to “requirements” or “circumstances” in wearing it. Eventually, a standard will be met and communicated back to the National Center and in the future there will be some definitive guidance as to who wears it, how do they “qualify” to wear it, who does the “qualification” (my personal hope is that an experienced adult honor guard — like those within our veteran organizations, the military, collegiate drill team organizations like the Pershing Rifles and JROTC/NDCC units at high schools would do the “training and qualifications”) and length of wear.

It’s plain to ME that many of those folks cannot read bold text. Bryan Wendell, the senior editor of SCOUTING Magazine, clearly states in his Bryan on Scouting blog entry that the emblem DOES NOT COUNT as a “position of responsibility” right shoulder or left shoulder. But they are asking “when are the Eagle positions of responsibility change to add this position?”

They are NOT. This is NOT a position of responsibility. It IS however, a position of identification and (personal) recognition. Of what? Idenitification as a member of a unit, district or Council honor guard. Recognition of his personal service as a member of a unit, district or Council honor guard.

Hope this adds to the conversation….if you have suggestions on it’s usage, please send them to program.content@scouting.org — those emails will be forwarded to the insignia and uniform task force.

And PLEASE DO keep sending those questions and concerns to me as well...Of course I read and answer each one and perhaps it'll be featured in a future Badge and Uniform posting!


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