The standard US military dog tag evolved from a need for identification, which was originally accomplished with pinning pieces of papers inside a Civil War soldier’s uniform that contained necessary contact and identification information. The look, the information and how the tag is made have evolved over the years. Though most countries have incorporated the dog tag into their military, each of them have their own unique design.
Once the need for consistent means of identification in the military surfaced, more durable and practical methods were discovered. Some of the countries in WWI made tags using fiber, suspending the tag with butcher’s twine long enough that allowed it to be worn around their neck. The United States military used what was known as an official marking kit. The kit allowed the identification information for each soldier to be hand stamped on his dog tags. All military dog tags issued in the United States prior to WWII were imprinted by hand.
Today, the method for making dog tags has become far more efficient with the use of a stamping machine. Modern military dog tags are made from stainless steel so they will not corrode. They are a standard issue to all military personnel and are required to be worn whenever in the field. The set includes two tags, one chain and a set of silencers. Information included on the standard military dog tag includes last name, first name and middle initial, serial number (social security number), blood type and religious affiliation if any.
The dog tag has also become a popular item among the civilian population.
Generally, these tags are used to denote a more personal message, sometimes even bearing a message of advertisement. Many military personnel continue to wear their standard military dog tags long after their service in the military has ended.