On March 31, 2014, the U.S. Army implemented its current policy on tattoos. Under Army Regulation 670-1, the Army details all grooming and appearance standards for soldiers in uniform, including the rules regarding tattoos and brands for soldiers currently serving, and for potential recruits wanting to enlist.
Each branch of service has its own policies on tattoos, brands and piercings, as well as policies for other grooming standards for both male and female service members, as well as for new recruits. All tattoos are subject to inspection for content.
The Army’s policy now states that new recruits cannot have tattoos on the neck, face, head, hands, wrists or fingers. The policy also specifies that a combination of no more than four individual tattoos or brands are permitted below the elbow or knee. Ear gauges are also prohibited. Individual tattoos must be smaller than the recruit’s hand. Individual tattoos that are clustered together to appear as one large tattoo are also prohibited. Any soldier who was active and in-compliance with the previous policy are grandfathered in under the new policy.
Navy policy prohibits tattoos on the head, face and neck, as well as tattoos on the inner lips or mouth that can be seen when the mouth is open. Tattoos that are visible when wearing a properly fitted crew neck T-shirt cannot be bigger than the applicant’s hand. The Navy also does not allow tattoos that are located on the torso, legs or upper arm, that are visible while wearing the Navy’s traditional Summer White uniform.
According to U.S. Marine Corps policy, tattoos on the head and neck are prohibited. There is also a ban against sleeve tattoos, and half-sleeve or quarter-sleeve tattoos that are visible to the eye when wearing standard physical training gear. And potential USMC recruits with more than four tattoos will be subject to review before admittance to “The Corps.”
The U.S. Air Force tattoo policy prohibits any tattoos above the collarbone, such as on the neck, head, face, tongue, lips or scalp. Airmen are also prohibited from having tattoos that cover more than 25 percent of a body part while wearing any type of uniform, including short sleeve, long sleeve, sleeves rolled up or open collar.
Americans wishing to enlist into any branch of the U.S. military need to be aware of the requirement standards and restrictions, especially those concerning tattoos and piercings. The Army Recruiting Command in Phoenix has reported that since March, in El Paso Texas alone, about one hundred potential recruits have been turned away because of their tattoos, brands and piercings.
Any would-be recruit that is denied acceptance because of violation of the tattoo policy may undergo tattoo removal and re-apply once their procedure is complete. However, it is highly recommended that gung-ho tattooed patriots research their tattoo removal facility prior to any procedures. Some facilities might leave you with a blemished area where your tattoo once was, that could be considered a brand, and still be disqualifying.
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Military Connection: Tattoo Taboo: By Debbie Gregory