U.S Army Tightens Rules on Tattoos

A new set of Army regulations, now under final review, would ban tattoos below the knee or elbow, but soldiers who already have the ink will be grandfathered in. That has set off a rush by soldiers to get work done ahead of a looming cutoff date, which Army authorities have said will most likely be 60 days after the approval of any new regulation.

Current Army uniform policy bans tattoos on the head and face, but it allows them down the arms and legs and on the hands. New recruits face the same prohibitions but also are banned from having neck tattoos. The coming regulations have irked many soldiers who would like to keep adding to their skin-art collection.

“Who’s going to see our tattoos?” asked 21-year-old Pvt. Cody Hartman, a combat engineer, who recently got a Chevrolet symbol on his left forearm and has plans to get a chain-link fence on his right. Both combat and dress uniforms have long pants and sleeves, which cover up tattoos most troops get in line with existing rules, he said, adding: “It’s not like it’s going to affect professional appearance.”

Tattoos have long been a part of military culture, but as they have become more popular, and more prominently displayed on the body, the various branches have been reining them in to try to maintain a professional look. “Tattoos and the military go hand in hand,” said Staff Sgt. Bahmandeji. A soldier without a tattoo “is like having a peanut butter and jelly sandwich without the jelly,” he said.

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