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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