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Military tattoo policy prevents some from enlisting in army

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PHOENIX -- Since new regulations about tattoos went into effect in March, an army recruiter says 300 applicants have been turned away from serving in the military.

Under the new regulations, soldiers are prohibited from having tattoos on their head, face, neck wrists, hands and fingers. They can have no more than four visible tattoos below the elbow or below the knee. The tattoos must be smaller than the person's hand.

"So far, since its implementation here in just Phoenix alone, that's 300 applicants or potential applicants who have been disqualified based on tattoos alone," aid Major Tyler Stewart, U.S. Army Recruiter.

If any of these tattoos exist, they are not allowed to sign up.

"We stop all processing at that point," Major Stewart said. "We don't know if they would be eligible or not, but they are disqualified based on the tattoos alone."

The regulations cover a variety of appearance-related issues including hair styles, jewelry, glasses and fingernails. Soldiers who already have tattoos are grandfathered in. But, under the new regulations, any soldier with tattoos can't seek a promotion to warrant officer or commissioning as an officer. Click here to read about one soldier's lawsuit.

If Purple Heart recipient Zac Rand had his tattoos at the time he enlisted, he would have been denied. Rand was an army specialist who received the Purple Heart in 2011 after he was severely injured in Afghanistan.

"It's not offending anybody," Rand said about his tattoos. "It shouldn't stop somebody from being able to serve their country."

The army said the rules are meant to encourage a professional appearance.

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15 comments

  • Nick

    Doesn’t matter son or not, who in the hell are you to tell someone to tell someone else what to do with their body. Smacking him for doing something to HIS own body. LOL. I feel sorry for your son.

  • Jeff

    I know the regulations pretty well from my recent service. I do believe that tattoos should be coverable and they should not promote offensive subjects such as sexism, racism, and other offensive details. A member of the U.S. military should respect the rules and only get tattoos that can be covered by clothing. As Americans everyone has the right to get tattoos but respect for the uniform and duty should prevent current members from getting visible tattoos. I have a few myself but nobody ever saw them because they were covered all the time.

  • Diana

    My husband joined the military with a sleeve tattoo. No regulations were in effect then because they needed people to enlist. He has worked hard to get promotions but is not being told his packet to P.A school will not be accepted due to the new regulations and the ban to promote to officer. Oh did I forget to say that he has a 3.9 GPA but the school won’t accept him due to his tattoos. Ridiculous!

  • Matt

    Diana, actions have consequences… sometimes negative ones. Exercising one’s individuality when your employer expects everyone to look the same is probably not the best idea.

  • Karl

    I couldn’t disagree more with this position. As long as you can look good in a dress uniform (no hand/neck or fat bodies) and you can do your job, I don’t care how much ink you have. I agree with the moratorium on disparaging tattoos, but folks like Diana’s husband shouldn’t be denied advancement because of a sleeve.

  • John Smith

    You mean my wicked neck tats might prevent me from getting a job? But all my teachers told me I’m special and can do whatever I want. Guess I’ll either join the circus or go to prison.

  • Roxann Munoz-Florez

    Im seriously asking what is wrong with tattoos? How does this affect anything? Are someone’s morals different or maybe their ideals if s/he has a tattoo? I do not see the problem with anyone having tattoos in any profession.

  • Jordan Howell

    I am currently trying to join be military I’ve been trying to join the army for 3 years. I am a G.E.D holder I am in college and I have my credited hours. I’ve been denied and told I can’t join , but the army has always changed rules on enlisting I just received my credit hours and finished college classes may 13 2014 , the rule came into affect April 30 2014…. I was 13 days away from being enlisted and signed to go to the army. We’ll now I am currently in the process of tattoo removal and I have two half sleeves. I do not agree tattoos should stop you from getting into the army but at the same time there’s nothing we can do so If you really want it bad enough you will do what it takes and take the initiative of removing or not getting them. Now I don’t agree in anyone’s judgment on tattoos, expecially a soilders because that’s how there expressing there war situations and battles there tattoos are the scars of war expressed on skin for everyone to understand there pain an what they go through since talking about it is way harder then you could ever imagine. My older brother is in right now and he is a great guy but he isn’t the same and talking about it doesn’t do well so tattoos are a way to cope with the pain rather then going loosing your mind

  • Alize

    Tattoos are symbols of expressing your inner self, pain taking, and life. If you have one means you are no different than a person who does. as long as they are not gang affiliate. but the army including such intelligent people, they should also know and understand that a tattoo doesn’t make a person

  • Caleb

    It’s wrong to put a profile on what people can join and what can’t. But when more people are needed it’s okay to ad a little to arsenal no matter what they look like. It’s discriminating if you ask me. This goes back to when African Americans were allowed to join they were looked down upon but it was okay for them to join because the military just need more people to fight. It’s wrong to judge some one by the way look or show them selves that a lesson we all should have learned in high school or growing up as kid.