Choosing Military Images Responsibly to Connect with the Veteran Audience

Photo credit: [Marine Corps Cpl. Aidan Hekker on](

####Want to appeal to a military audience when incorporating military visuals into your ads or campaigns? There are several common pitfalls to avoid, which can have the opposite effect of your intent.

###Appealing to the Military Audience####
Veterans, active-duty personnel, and military spouses create a skilled and diverse group of job seekers in today's labor market. You want to attract them to your organization for a number of reasons.

However, a common complaint from this group is that most stock photos do not depict correct military uniforms.

Considering the importance of uniform standards in the military, when an item is being worn incorrectly or when grooming standards in the photos don't seem to match with the DoD regulations, it is glaringly obvious to a military audience.

> “Uniform violations — such as ribbons out of precedential order — do sometimes occur in both DoD-supported and non DoD-supported productions, and can be attributed to a variety of causes: errors or oversights by the production team, purposeful creative decisions made by the production team to fit a particular narrative for the character, and even a lack of availability of ribbons, medals and uniform components on the day of shooting can all be causes of the violation,” said Glen Roberts, chief of entertainment media for the Defense Department. [*Source: Task & Purpose*] (

###Best practices for choosing images for a military audience:

**Proper Wear of Uniform:**

- Uniform should represent the correct branch pattern.
- Uniform should be wrinkle-free.
- Collar should be worn in a flattened position.
- American flag should be seen with stars on right-hand side.
- Headgear should be parallel to head.
- Identification tags should not be seen.
- If a name tag is visible, it must be blurred or covered.

**Grooming Standards When in Uniform:**

- Hair should be a natural color.
- When worn down, hair should not exceed the bottom edge of the collar.
- Bangs must not pass the eyebrows.
- Short hair should have a neat, conservative, and tapered appearance.
- Face should be clean-shaven; mustaches should be tidy and never cover the upper lip.
- Makeup should be natural in appearance.
- Nails should be neatly trimmed.
- Visible tattoos should not be offensive.

A salute must be presented with the right arm horizontal, a straight hand and wrist, touching the brim of the cap or slightly above the right eye.

###Changes to Uniform Standards###
In addition to staying on top of the correct wear and appearance of the military uniform, one must also stay on top of near-constant changes. For example, recently braids and ponytails were introduced as [acceptable hair wear for women.](

With uniform and grooming changes occurring regularly, it can be difficult to find images that fit current uniform and grooming standards.

###Check the DoD uniform standards for each branch:###

- [Air Force](
- [Army](
- [Coast Guard](
- [Marine Corps](
- [Navy](
- [Space Force](

###Where to find military imagery
The following sites offer photos or media of the military, veterans, and more:

[Adobe Stock]( provides free professional images, but users will need to use judgement and compare photos against the uniform and grooming standards.

[]( is a great place to find pre-scrubbed, ready to use photos of the military.

[DVIDS](, known as Defense Visual Imagery Information Distribution Service, is an open source government-run military media site.

[Shutterstock]( is another decent stock media site, but again, use caution when choosing military imagery from this site.

NOTE: When using these images for advertising purposes, the DoD [forbids the use of military emblems](,Use%20of%20Military%20Service%20Names%2C%20Insignia%2C%20or%20Other%20Marks,on%20an%20Advertisement%20or%20Website&text=The%20Defense%20Department%2C%20including%20Military,their%20marketing%20and%20advertising%20materials.) into marketing or advertising materials.

####See our one-pager about [advertising to a military audience](


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