Whats The Big Deal About Tattoos
Many recruits wonder why the armed forces even care about their tattoos. While someone joining the Air Force or Marine Corps might expect to be required to put forth a professional appearance, someone joining the Army or Navy might think thatgiven the traditionally more rugged lifestyle of people in these branchesa tattoo on the hand or neck would not pose a big deal.
The reality of the matter is that the military is a place of tradition and high, uniform standards. Individuality is not valued like in our general society. Moreover, there are a lot of qualified recruits who meet the existing standards so theres little incentive to lower existing standards / regulations.
Tattoos that glorify sexism, drugs, violence, or extremist or indecent tattoos could pose problems for recruits. While some branches of the military will allow certain types of sleeve tattoos, many would-be recruits will find themselves being told to get laser tattoo removal treatment for these tattoos before they can submit enlistment papers.
Military tattoo regulations do tend to change slightly over time. So, while the below information is accurate to the best of our knowledge, you may want to double-check with your recruiter or another U.S. Military publication for the latest tattoo regulations.
Air Force Tattoo Ideas And Meanings
Turns out, the Air Force gives you wings!
In fact, I would venture to guess that 90% of all Air Force tattoos somehow incorporate the famous wings overlapping a central star.
Youll also see Airmen sporting USAF tattoos that symbolize a deep patriotic pride in their nation and flag.
Eagles abound, and of course, no USAF tattoo is complete without showcasing the very symbol of the branch the fighter jet itself.
National Guard Tattoo Policy
The US National Guard is an important branch of the United States Armed Forces. The National Guard and Air National Guard are reserve forces, which means that those that serve do so on a part-time basis while also holding civilian jobs. Removery often sees clients who plan to join the National Guard but have tattoos that violate their tattoo policy.
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The Message Of The Tattoo
For safety reasons, the Army does not allow tattoos that are rude, obscene, or vulgar or which contain symbols or religious emblems that could represent a religious belief.
But the Army allows some tattoos that promote good citizenship. The Army allows tattoos on soldiers after theyve received the requisite counseling and after the paperwork is approved by their chain of command.
Army Regulation 670-1 states: If you have a tattoo and it so happens to be visible in an official way, such as visible in a photograph of your Drill Sergeants School class photo, then it must be reported to your commanding officer for approval prior to getting it done. If the tattoo is visible in a photo of your unit in your official ABU or other Army Uniform, then it must also be approved by your MRA.
If the commanding officer approves the tattoo, then you must go to a Military Arts Tattoo Studio to get ink or mechanical drawing of that design. If you are giving the tattoo artist an idea of what you want, be sure they can produce an accurate rendering. The Army requires that imprints of approved tattoos be submitted to the unit historian for permanent records.
A person who is 18 years of age or older and has been in the Armed Forces for less than five years can get a tattoo if he or she has consulted with his military chain of command and the Military Reviewing Authority and obtained written approval.
Cosmetics: A Gray Area In Military Tattoo Policies
One type of tattoos that may confuse some people are cosmetics, like permanent eyeliner or eyebrows.
These are currently allowed in all branches. Just make sure they are natural-looking in color and shape to adhere to the regulations pertaining to face tattoos.
The team at Empire Resume hopes this information about tattoo policies in the military has been helpful. Were always here to help with your career planning needs and deliver results, guaranteed!
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Army Relaxes Tattoo Policy Approves Some Hand Neck Ink As It Faces Recruiting Shortfall
Sgt. David Stanfield from the 10th Combat Aviation Brigade demonstrates his fandom with a Star Wars-themed tattoo ahead of the Star Wars movie premiere on Thursday, Dec. 19, 2019, at Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan. Soldiers can now sport ink on their hands, behind their ears and on the back of their necks, according to an updated Army tattoo policy published Thursday, June 23, 2022.
Soldiers can now sport ink on their hands, behind their ears and on the back of their necks, according to an updated Army tattoo policy published Thursday aimed largely at helping recruiters avoid the lengthy waiver process to bring recruits with body art into the service.
Army officials said the new policy would better align the service with social norms on tattoos and make the enlistment process simpler for recruits with tattoos in some areas of their bodies that were previously banned. The updated policy was issued this week by Army Secretary Christine Wormuth and went into immediate effect for soldiers and incoming recruits.
We always review policy to keep the Army as an open option to as many people as possible who want to serve, said Maj. Gen. Doug Stitt, the Armys director of military personnel management. This directive makes sense for currently serving soldiers and allows a greater number of talented individuals the opportunity to serve now.
The policy still bans tattoos from soldiers faces and the front of their necks, and it limits ring tattoos on fingers to one per hand.
Joining The Military Or Aspiring To Be Promoted Your Tattoos Could Have An Impact
Each US military branch has its own appearance policies and tattoo policy that dictates the type, size, and location of allowable tattoos. However, all military tattoo policies are consistent regarding the content of allowed tattoos. Tattoos in the military cannot feature vulgarity, nudity, graphic violence, or any sentiments that could be considered racist, elitist, or anti-government. If the content of a military tattoo is in question, the decision is made by the soldiers commanding officer.
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Tattoo Removal For Military Service Members
If you are considering a career in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, or even the Coast Guard, you need to know about their restrictions on tattoos. Each branch of the armed forces differs in what it will allow, but all of them have one thing in common: if you have certain kinds of tattoos, or tattoos that cover too much of your body, you will not be allowed to enlist. Whats more, even if your tattoos are within the range of what is permissible, they may end up hindering your ability to progress and be promoted beyond a certain rank.
Because of this, if you are looking for a fresh start so you can begin an active duty career, you might want to consider laser tattoo removal. While other options do exist in certain circumstancessuch as simply covering the offending tattoo with something that complies with the existing regulationslaser tattoo removal is great option to help get you eligible to enlist.
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Does The Piercing Policy Apply To All Areas Of The Military Installation
It does, but it is also important to note the policy only addresses personal appearance issues while on the installation.
Although the Air Force encourages airmen to maintain an appropriate military image at all times, piercing practices off base, such as earring wear by males, are not intended to be addressed by this policy.
Adapting To The New Army Tattoo Policy For 2021
The Army tattoo policy is a constant revolving door.
Therefore, soldiers with tattoos that were previously compliant to military policies yet have since been deemed inappropriate can get grandfathered in.
Regardless, it is impossible to have a tattoo on the face or head grandfathered because these locations on the body were never authorized in the military.
Army soldiers are inspected routinely for new body art as well as other regulations of its grooming standards.
Attempting to hide or cover up tattoos in violation of the policy is a bad idea and will inevitably end up with disciplinary action.
Before obtaining a tattoo it is recommended that soldiers , speak to a unit leader/recruiting coordinator to ensure the ink falls within acceptable standards.
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This Is What You Need To Know About Tattoos In The Army
The Army tattoo regulations, which can be found in detail here, were updated and relaxed in 2015, though they are still some of the most stringent in all branches of the military. Prior regulations limited the number of visible tattoos to four, and none of those could be any larger than the soldiers hand.
What Happens If A Soldier Disobeys The Army Tattoo Policy
As stated earlier in the article, any member of the army that defies the Army Tattoo Policy will be punished according to the law of the Army.
Heres a bit of what the disciplinary procedure entails for any soldier that defaults:
First, its important to note that soldiers are advised to talk with the head of their units before getting a new tattoo, this is to ensure that they dont get any tattoo that contradicts the tattoo policy of the army.
Secondly, soldiers who had a tattoo before being enlisted into the army will not be punished because chances are that the existing tattoos dont defy the armys policy in any way.
If however the soldier adds or edits the tattoo and changes it to anything that violates the policy, then he will be punished. Depending on the gravity of the offense, the punishment may just be a reprimand or a query.
But if the tattoo out rightly violates the army tattoo policy, the commander will first counsel the defaulting soldier of the existing tattoo rule.
If the military has zero tolerance for the tattoo that the soldier has, he will be ordered to have it removed.
The cost of removing or erasing the tattoo wont be paid by the military unlike other health bills, it will be paid for by the soldier from his pocket, and this on its own is a disciplinary action.
Most often, removal of the tattoo is mandatory if the tattoo is contrary to the army tattoo policy and if the soldier wishes to remain in active service in the army.
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Why And Where Else The Service Is Relaxing Restrictions
Even under the old policy, many recruits joined the service with tattoos that were technically not authorized they just needed to get a waiver during their enlistment process.
Easing tattoo restrictions are also a common way for military officials to access a broader recruiting pool. In 2006, the service drastically relaxed its tattoo policy in order to keep feeding more recruits into the training pipeline as the Iraq War moved into the surge era.
Theyve been controversial, too former Sergeant Major of the Army Raymond Chandler III drew ire when he spearheaded an effort to restrict tattoos below the elbow and knee in 2014. The next SMA, Daniel Dailey, quickly rolled back that policy.
Instead, Sykes and senior officials responsible for accessions and manpower explained why now was the time to bring back neck, ear and hand tattoos.
Sykes argued that good order and discipline is not affected by tattoos.
People First is allowing personnel to continue to serve and to join our military without a prohibition on certain tattoos that are now acceptable in society, Sykes added.
Lin St. Clair, who oversees accessions as an assistant deputy secretary, explained that in fiscal 2020, the service processed more than 1,400 tattoo waiver requests for prospective soldiers, ultimately approving roughly 1,100.
Ultimately, added St. Clair, any moves made arent about lowering standards, as some contend.
Tattoos Growing In Popularity Among Young Recruits
The U.S. Army first began allowing soldiers to have tattoos in 2015. It noted how tattoos have grown in popularity among younger people, citing research by the Armys Training and Doctrine Command showing that 41% of those between the ages of 18 and 34 have at least one or more.
The Navy and Marines have less restrictive tattoo policies, and Army recruiting officials recommended the new changes to senior leaders in an effort to keep potential recruits.
Army recruiters filed more than 650 waivers in 2022 as of May for active duty and reserve recruits, according to TRADOC Enlisted Chief David Andrews. The waivers can take up to two weeks and can impact the recruiting process “because potential recruits who previously had tattoos in restricted areas could have decided to enlist in another military branch.”
” gives us the opportunity to put people in right away that have these types of tattoos,” Andrews said. “We dont want people walking away from opportunities in the Army who are otherwise qualified.”
Sgt. Maj. Ashleigh Sykes, uniform policy sergeant major, said that a soldier may choose to get tattoos for a variety of reasons, including some as a form of creativity and others for religious reasons. While facial tattoos remain banned, Sykes said soldiers may file for an exception if theyd like to receive a facial tattoo for religious reasons.
Previously, the service only allowed ring tattoos on hands.
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Examples Of Army Offensive Tattoos
Here are the main types of tattoos the U.S. Army analyzes and may prohibit you from enlisting in the military:
- Sexist Tattoos: Soldiers are not allowed to have body art that advocates a philosophy that degrades or demeans a person based on gender.
- Racist Tattoos: Soldiers are not allowed to have body ink that degrades or demeans a person based on race, ethnicity, or national origin.
- Extremist Tattoos: The Army determines extremist tattoos as body art affiliated with, depicting, or symbolizing extremist philosophies, organizations, or activities. The Army has zero-tolerance toward organizations that promote racial or gender intolerance.
- Indecent Tattoos: The Army clarifies that indecent tattoos are grossly offensive to modesty, decency, propriety, or professionalism. The definition of indecent tattoos in the Army is fairly loose. It might include body art like a character flipping the bird or using the restroom on another object.
Lastly, branding tattoos are not authorized in the U.S. Army.
Military personnel are prohibited from having tattoos, including brands on the head, face, and neck.
There are several commonly asked questions regarding the Army tattoo policy:
Amid Recruiting Crunch Army Approves Small Hand Ear And Neck Tattoos For Soldiers
WACO, Texas – U.S. Army Secretary Christine Wormuth on Thursday issued a new policy allowing soldiers to have small tattoos on their hands, ears and necks.
The Army Times reports the U.S. military is struggling to find recruits right now. With three months remaining in fiscal 2022, the U.S. Army has only attained 40 percent of its enlisted recruiting goal.
The following tattoos are now authorized for Army soldiers:
- One visible tattoo on each hand smaller than one inch in measurement. This tattoo cannot be on the fingers, though one ring tattoo per hand is okay, as are an unlimited number of tattoos between the fingers, as long as they are not visible when the fingers are closed.
- One tattoo on the back of a soldiers neck, less than two inches in measurement.
- One tattoo behind each ear, no larger than one inch in measurement and not extending beyond the ear lobe.
READ THE U.S. ARMYS MEMORANDUM ON SOLDIER TATTOOS:
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What Are The Differences In The Piercing Policy For Women And Men
The only difference is the wear of earrings. Males may not wear earrings on duty, whether in or out of uniform. They also cannot wear them off duty on base.
Females performing official duty in civilian attire are limited to the same wear criteria when in uniform: i.e., a single small spherical, conservative, diamond, gold, white pearl, or silver pierced or clip earring per earlobe. The earrings must match and should fit tightly without extending below the earlobe.
Above Information Derived from AFI 36-2903 and the Air Force News Service
Military Tattoo Policy Prevents Some From Enlisting In Army
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 persons hand.
So far, since its implementation here in just Phoenix alone, thats 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 dont 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 cant seek a promotion to warrant officer or commissioning as an officer.
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.
The army said the rules are meant to encourage a professional appearance.
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