On June 1, wearing gold rating insignia on your dress uniforms will no longer signify a dozen consecutive years of good conduct — or at least not getting caught.

That’s because the Navy has authorized the wearing of gold rating crows and service stripes for any sailor with more than 12 years of cumulative service.

Currently, sailors with up to a dozen years in uniform wear red rank insignia. But once a sailor passes the 12-year mark and also has three consecutive good conduct awards, he or she rates distinctive gold crows and service stripes.

Under the current system, a sailor who slips up and gets punished at captain’s mast or court-martial proceedings would see the counter start over. If he or she leaves the service for more than 90 days? Start over.

All of that changed on March 25 when Vice Adm. Bob Burke, the Navy’s top personnel officer, signed Naval Administrative Message 075/19.

“The requirement for enlisted Sailors to obtain 12 years of service along with continuous good conduct and minimum performance evaluation to qualify for wear of gold rating badges and service stripes is rescinded,” Burke wrote in the directive.

“All enlisted Sailors with 12 cumulative years of active naval or active reserve service are authorized to wear gold rating badges, and gold service stripes in lieu of red rating badges and stripes.”

Burke settled a debate that had been simmering within the Navy for years over which enlisted personnel should be allowed to wear gold. Many senior enlisted leaders favored Burke’s reform because it’s more inclusive and doesn’t easily single out those with blemishes or broken service in their records.

Under the new rule, enlisted sailors who previously served on active or reserve duty in the Marine Corps also can count those years — but not time spent in delayed entry programs, inactive reserves or during broken service.

But those returning to active or reserve duty from broken service will resume the cumulative time count upon reenlistment.

Mark D. Faram is a former reporter for Navy Times. He was a senior writer covering personnel, cultural and historical issues. A nine-year active duty Navy veteran, Faram served from 1978 to 1987 as a Navy Diver and photographer.

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