U.S. Navy Good Conduct Variation
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In the United States Navy, enlisted members in pay grades E-4 to E-9 are authorized to wear gold rate insignia instead of red if the individual meets the requirements for good conduct service. Personnel E-4 to E-6 who have met good conduct service requirements are also authorized to wear collar insignia and cap devices with gold chevrons on their service uniforms.
Gold Rating Badge and Service Stripes
Personnel whose most recent twelve cumulative years of Naval active or active reserve service meet requirements for Good Conduct Service (that which meets minimum requirements for performance, conduct and evaluation marks for the Good Conduct Award) shall wear gold rating badges and gold service stripes on Dress Blue Uniforms, Dinner Dress Blue uniforms and Dinner Dress Blue/White Jacket uniforms. The twelve years may be active or drilling reserve time in the Navy, Navy Reserve, and Navy units attached to Marine Corps, or Marine Corps Forces Reserve units. Times excluded are: delayed entry program, inactive reserve, and broken service. Under broken service conditions - resume the cumulative time count upon active duty reenlistment or upon enlisting in the drilling reserves.
Continued Wearing of Gold
Once qualified to wear the gold rating badge and gold service stripes, the qualification continues through the duration of an enlisted person's service, providing they continue to meet minimum conduct, performance, and evaluation mark requirements for a Good Conduct Medal or Naval Reserve Meritorious Service Award. On the date the individual fails to meet the minimum standards, the gold rating badge and gold service stripes must be removed from the uniform. Additionally, if an individual is convicted by court-martial or Non-judicial punishment (NJP), the gold badge and gold service stripes must be removed from the uniform on the date the conviction becomes final within the meaning of Article 76, Uniform Code of Military Justice. The privilege to again wear the gold service stripes/rating badge may only be earned by fulfilling the requirements listed above.
Fleet Reserve personnel
Fleet reserve personnel may wear the gold rating badges and service stripes authorized at the time of their transfer to the fleet reserve. For fleet reserve personnel returning to active duty, fleet reserve time is considered broken time for the purpose of determining authorized additional service stripes, and qualifying to wear gold sleeve insignia.
E-4 Good Conduct Variation
The Petty Officer Third Class Good Conduct Variation is very rare in today's U.S. Navy as it is uncommon for a sailor with 12 years of good conduct to have not been promoted beyond that paygrade.
For more information on this rarity, see Petty Officer 3rd Class Good Conduct Variation