In Commonwealth practice, there are generally three sorts of postnominal letters that are used commonly.
The first is academic or professional qualifications, like PhD, FRCS, QC, etc. These things are used in addressing letters to people, in publications by and about them, and so on.
The second is royal awards, like OBE, CBE, OM, etc where they are used in a way similar to the above.
The third is military decorations - VC, DSO, MC, etc. Any John Smith who is a VC winner is known as John Smith VC forever. Hospital wings will be named after him as “The John Smith VC Radiology Centre” and so on. In any written publication about a soldier, the reference will be to General Sir Francis Drake, VC, DSO.
I realise Americans do the same with academic awards. I also realise they do not do it with royal awards because they kind of frown upon them.
But do they do them with military awards?
Is it David Q Jones NC? Michael B Brown MH? If not, is there any reason for why not?
There aren’t any American military awards that confer post-nomial doodads. As for why not, I suppose it’s just not something that exists in American culture, it has probably never occurred to anyone to put a military decoration in their name. This of course is probably rooted in the American rejection of ceremonial titles in general.
The only titles I’ve known people to really care about are the ones conferred by college degree (the title of “Doctor”). Even then, it’s not considered a particularly big faux pas and is usually corrected in a polite aside.
Any military member I’ve known will only reveal their decorations if asked. As best I can tell, there is a long tradition of such humility.
As friedo has said, it’s been long ingrained in our culture ever since our separation from England. However, I don’t recall ever hearing any mention of postnomial etiquette in my English and Grammar courses.
I have noticed something at my company, which is in the healthcare industry and we have a LOT of alphabet soup medical professionals - MD, DO, RN, PA, etc…
When it gets weird is when you see email sigs like “Dumbass McStupid, MBA” or “Idiotic O’Jackoff, BS.”
I always thought that the only one of those academic titles to stick onto your name was PhD, but apparently it makes some of these folks feel better to stick their non-doctoral title onto their signatures.
I don’t, although I’ve always wondered if I’d have more clout if I did.
I’m an RN and at work, we’re required to list our discipline after our signature. I’m in the habit so much that I find I sometimes sign other things with “Cub Mistress, RN” Fortunately, my bank hasn’t rejected any check so signed for incorrect signature!
IIRC, the two military awards that carry postnomials are the Medal of Honor (CMH) and Distiguished Service Cross (DSC). I believe the order is: academic degrees (doctorates), professional certifications (CPP for security, NBCT for teachers, etc.), military decorations (CMH, DSC).
What I notice in education is that there are a lot of teachers that use their masters as their academic degrees.