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Should I include my combat action ribbon in my resume if I am pursuing a research position or using the resume for a PhD program application?


Oscar Mier Riverside, CA

The question to me says no, but I've read on countless occasions that grit is the most outstanding trait in successful people, and I can not think of any better example to demonstrating grit than through a combat action ribbon. I've been advised to remove my combat action ribbon under the awards section of my resume since some human resource officers may have unintentional stereotypes when they see my resume. I am a bit conflicted with whether I want to take it off or leave it on because I understand that it may not be entirely relevant to my resume for a research position, but I also want to join a lab or workplace that supports veterans.

21 March 2019 7 replies Resumes & Cover Letters



Louis Schwarz Somerville, NJ

Include your ribbon and be proud of the accomplishment. The ribbon indicates you can perform under pressure and you are dependable. You will complete the assignment. These attributes are what leaders are made of and will be important in any future initiative.
Thanks for your service..

25 March 2019 Helpful answer


Henry ("Dr. Hank") Stevens Fort Lauderdale, FL

Two thoughts for your consideration. First, as an HR Director for many decades, I went out of my way to put my foot on the rope when a vet sent in a resume, was recruited, or interviewed. My objective became how do I screen IN versus, screen OUT. Many of my fellow H-R folk did the same. Seek them. They are there.

Second, what having a Ph.D. says to me, both as someone who has said degree and when providing vocational counseling to same, is that a higher education degree means that you can learn. Thus, although "grit" is important, DEMONSTRATING THAT YOU CAN LEARN is critical.

Putting that in the context of vocational counseling: you can always teach the experience but can NEVER teach the talent. I cannot sing. You can teach me about base clef, treble clef, intonation, rhythm, harmony, half-notes, music history, syncopation, percussion, and the like. But, I still cannot sing. I just do NOT have the talent.

Thus, take the time to accurately identify your talents and sell those attributes. Here is a link to the Myers Briggs Type Indicator - this should get you started identifying YOUR talents. If you need some interpretive assistance (FREE), feel free to contact me via E-Mail at and cite ACP ADVISOR in your subject line. Be sure to record the 4 letter and associated number grades.

Dr. Hank

23 March 2019 Helpful answer


Jodie Prieto-Rodriguez Pittsburgh, PA

Good Morning Sir:

I would place it on your Curriculum Vitae for the PHD program. I have sat on numerous Medical, Dental, Nursing, and Clinical Psychology Doctoral Interview panels and know that the CAB, CMB, CIB, Jump wings, Diver Badge, or any other limited decoration is a trait that sets those individuals apart from their peers. I recall a Medical School Applicant who hesitated to mention that she served in the peace corps in Africa for 6 years, was fluent in french, and served in the military for a brief stint. Her experiences were seen as a set of diverse conditions that had the potential to add value and perspectives to the schools class. Her masters GPA, GRE, and MCAT scores where excellent; however, most doctoral level students score are impressive. She was accepted on an assessment of what she, as a total person, had to offer the doctoral field once she graduated.

Most students I interviewed had significant civilian accomplishments that were largely in the area of business and academics. If you have leadership and/or unique experiences that exist outside business and academics, add them. The more unique and experienced you present yourself, the better chances you have in obtaining admission.

22 March 2019 Helpful answer


Thomas Kidd Dallas, TX

Corporal Mier.

Wish I could say that you will always be rewarded for some of your most proud accomplishments (CAR, Purple Heart, etc.), but I've experienced first hand the apprehension certain layers of HR can have when it comes to things like this (0311).

Depending on your short and long-term goals, my advice would be to include it where it applies to the position. For example, if you desire a role that provides a good fit and welcoming atmosphere for combat vets, including your CAR will naturally exclude organizations that don't put value on it. If, however, you aren't concerned as much about fit as you are about learning a new skill or trade (potentially with an organization that may exclude you from future hiring rounds if your CAR is on your resume), then there is no shame in leaving it off.

You'll get to a point in your career where your resume will turn into a combination of your various accomplishments based on the job/role you are seeking; but, your veteran status will show regardless of whether or not you choose to list your CAR, or any other accomplishment.

Personally, I value fit more than function, so I've recently become more open about some of my more "sensitive" career accomplishments. This ensures I don't end up in a role that I'm simply not a good fit for. But, it took me 10 years to get to that point, and I know some vets who never got there at all.

Best advice I can give is be proud of your accomplishments, but be focused on the mission, whatever that may be (role, career path, resume, etc.).

Semper Fi,


Bill Rogers Tallahassee, FL

It's a tremendous accomplishment. Include it if it is relevant to the job. It could be a great conversation starter during the interview.


Po Wong Orlando, FL

Hi Oscar,
Always proud of your combat action ribbons, military accomplishment and thanks for your service!

You are correct in the real world, there are companies (research position) and Universities (PhD program) do have “human resource manager unintentional stereotype”. That means your resume has to be very specific or tailored to the company or university culture that you are applying.

With the right university, your combat and military accomplishment could actually help you to get accepted to a PhD program. There may be universities looking for diversity to enhance their program. My daughter got accepted by a top university for a Graduate Engineering Program with full scholarship and living expenses because they never have an “Athlete Scholar” in their program before. (She was an NCAA Athlete Scholar). Being minority female also help….

In summary, always tailor your resume to specific job function and culture of the company/ university that you are applying. More than happy to have a private conversation with you if you think it may add value.

Good Luck!


Karen Galecki Chicago, IL

I agree with Louis, be proud and list it. A company that you will want to work for will welcome your service.

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