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What those ink about tattoos today

I am a noncommissioned officer, I am a professional in every aspect in my military


career. How is having a tattoo a symbol of being unprofessional? As a medic, how does my
tattoo prevent me from saving a life, giving medical care helping my fellow soldiers? Asks
Army Reserve Sergeant Lindsay Urena. (Tan, 2014) These are the types of questions that
soldiers are now asking the Department of Defense after the tightening of the personal
appearance tattoo policy AR 670-1. The policy states that soldiers tattoos cannot be located
anywhere on the neck or head above the lines of a T-shirt. They also cannot be located anywhere
below the wrist bone. Visible band tattoos cannot be longer than two inches wide. There can be
no more than one visible band tattoo. Sleeve tattoos on arms or legs are not allowed. Each
visible tattoo below the elbow or knee must be smaller than the size of the wearer's extended
hand. There cannot be more than four total tattoos below the elbows or knees. Soldiers who
currently violate these revisions can be grandfathered in as long as commanders validate their
current tattoos. Also, each year, commanders much check each Soldier for new tattoos that might
be prohibited. The checks will be done when Soldiers are in their physical fitness uniform and do
not include tattoos that might be hidden by the shorts or T-shirts. (DoD, AR 670-1)
The tattoo restrictions enforced apply equally to officers and warrant officers. Enlisted
soldiers with any tattoos on the body in forbidden locations listed or soldiers exceeding the limit
of four tattoos cannot request commissioning or appointment even if they are grandfathered in.
(DoD, AR 670-1) This restriction itself has caused a big uproar with the brothers and sisters that
protect this country. Staff sergeant Adam Thorogood of the Kentucky National Guard has
recently filed a lawsuit in federal court seeking to have the new tattoo rules declared

unconstitutional. Thorogood, who has 11 tattoos, hopes to become an aviation warrant officer.
(Tan, 2014)
The revised regulation was published on March 30, 2014 and the Sergeant Major of the
Army Raymond F. Chandler III addressed why the changes were made. "The Army is a
profession, and one of the ways our leaders and the American public measure our
professionalism is by our appearance," he said. "Wearing of the uniform, as well as our overall
military appearance, should be a matter of personal pride for all Soldiers. (Vergun, 2014)
This is all good and well but the current soldiers in the military are just not going to let
this issue go. With law suits and unanswered questions the army is looking to relax the current
policy for those soldiers looking to turn their sergeant stripes in for a lieutenants bar. (Tan,
2014) Definitely a step in the right direction but continued damage to the new potential recruits
wanting to fight for their country remains. According to Captain Joshua Jacquez of the United
States Army, who is a recruiter in El Paso, Texas, states that Right now, with the new tattoo
policy in effect, we currently turn away 1 in every 5 applicants that come through the door.
(CNN, 2014) There are kids and young adults busting down the doors of the recruiters office to
fight for the country that they live in and are getting denied for the artwork they wish to display
on their bodies. Only time will tell when the Department of Defense determines what
professionalism in the military should be represented as.

References
Army Regulation 670-1 (March 3, 2014) Wear and appearance of army uniforms and insignia.
Department of Defense
Benitez, G. (August 29, 2014) Army already considering changes to new tattoo policy. CNN
Tan, M. (August 21, 2014) Army may ease tattoo policy. Army Times. USA Today
Vergun, D. (March 31, 2014) Army tightens personal appearance, tattoo policy. Army News
Service