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Proposed Army regulation would delimit future tattoos for soldiers

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LEAVENWORTH, Kan. - Proposed Army regulations about tattoos are just a signature away from becoming policy. The regulation would keep tattoos from going below the elbow or knee, but you can keep your ink if you've already got it, depending on the subject matter.

A tattoo parlor in Leavenworth said when this was first announced, soldiers rushed in, to be sure their tattoos were grandfathered in.

Testament Tattoo's owner, licensed artist Clinton Burks, said many of their clients are military.

"Two, maybe three clients a week are military," Burks said.

But Burks said the number changed a few months ago.

"This past May, when they first announced that this was happening, I had an influx, a huge influx of people that were coming in to get tattooed below the elbow," Burks said.

Burks is talking about the proposed regulations to ban tattoos below the knee or elbow.  A military spokesperson said it just needs signed by the Secretary of the Army to become policy.

"Serious sleeve clients going from here to below the gig line. They wanted to get started on that elbow so they were grandfathered in," Burks said.

An Army spokesperson said if you've already got the tattoos before the policy is in place, you're OK.  But only if it meets army standards. He said some examples are the tattoos can't be anything extremist, racist, or sexist. The spokesperson said if it is, the tattoo would have to be removed.

A military police man currently based out of Ft. Leavenworth wants to remain anonymous. He was getting his back re-inked at Testament Tattoo. He said he hasn't heard his colleagues running to the parlors, but he also said, "With any organization everybody is going to have complaints and gripes about anything and its their personal opinion. To me, I just keep it from my elbow up."

Even though Testament Tattoo is close to Ft. Leavenworth, Burks said they are finding most soldiers who come in are from Ft. Riley. He thinks it's because Leavenworth is more of an educational campus and officers there, tend to keep their tattoos hidden.

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