Tattoos In the Military
As tattoos become more popular in our society, the military has decided to create rules to regulate tattoos. At one time in history, tattoos were seen as a right of passage into the military. It was not until 2007 that tattoos started being regulated. In the new rules, just revised in 2010, tattoos are limited and restricted. “For Generations, Marines have served proudly in every region of the world, fulfilling are job as America’s ambassadors and defenders of freedom. We are recognized around the globe for our military prowess and high standards of military bearing and appearance. The growing trend of excessive tattoos limits world wide assignability of Marines and detracts from one of the most visible hallmarks of our corps-our distinguished appearance” (Conway). So now that rules have been established just how often are they enforced? All branches of the military are similar when it comes to the rules of tattoos. In the Marine Corps, no tattoos should show when soldiers are in military regulation shorts and t-shirt, and no tattoos on the head, neck, or hands. If there is a tattoo on the forearm that will show in the standard PT uniform than it can be no larger than the wearer’s hand with fingers extended and joined with the thumb touching the base of the index finger. Jared Wylie, 22, who is a Corporal in the Marine Corps, states “ I have a tattoo of an atom on my forearm, which shows in my PT gear, I can get away with it though because it does not go over the size limit for that area of my body”. All the rest of Wylie’s tattoos are in places not seen in his PT gear. He has three total and plans on getting more when he is out of the military.
The Army’s rules are not as strict as in the Marine Corps. Thomas Reader, a 1st Lieutenant for the United States Army, has five tattoos total. He stated “ When I was in Afghanistan, I had forty two men in my platoon. All of them had at least one tattoo. It was okay”. Reader has one tattoo inspired by the military on his chest. Reader discussed that many soldiers he knew have tattoos because of the military. “A lot of guys that went to Iraq (for deployment) got POW MIA tattoos. A lot of tattoos can be used to represent or be inspired by the military,” stated Reader.
If someone has a lot of tattoos or ones that go against the new regulations, there is a grandfather clause. This allows men and women already in the military with tattoos to not get kicked out. A lot of the times though, the rules are not always enforced. Alex Davis, 22, a Corporal in the Army, stated “No one really cares about tattoos, no one has ever said anything about my tattoos.” He has a chest piece and a tattoo on his forearm. “ If the military doesn’t need people to enlist or they have an itch to get you in trouble, that is when the rules start applying”, states Davis.
There are many soldiers and people wanting to get enlisted with tattoos. It seems there are rules but they are not always enforced. As long as the tattoos are not discriminatory or defensive, soldiers can get away with having them. The only tattoos not allowed are on your face, head, or hands. The rules of tattoos are mostly opinioned based. If an officer wants to enforce the rules he/she can but most of the time having tattoos is part of the culture of the military.
Conway, James. United States. Marine Corp. Amplification To The Marine Corp. Tattoo Policy. Marine Corp, 2010. Web. .