This may be a dumb question, but after everyone does this do they, like, try and find their own hat again? Do they just take any one? Is there a way to ID them? Are they just left for the sweeper and issued new ones?
Service caps used by the US Military (and the caps used at the academies, I assume) have a little pocket inside to hold a name card.
Issued uniform items are also fitted to the individual, so it probably wouldn’t be a good idea to just pick one up, either. Atleast for the Marines, the service caps are required to be marked with their names on the inner lining. Or do you mean just the service academies? I imagine it must be similar.
Upon graduation from the various acadamies you become an officer with an entirely different uniform from that of a cadet, midshipman, etc… Some time before graduation the uniform salesmen come around and fit you for your brand new officer’s uniform and that is waiting for you immediately after you throw your old cap away.
I don’t know how it is now but officers didn’t used to be “issued” uniforms. You bought them. My memory is a little hazy on this but possibly you got a one-time uniform allowance.