New Army tattoo policy eliminates potential recruits, future officer promotions

If you want to sign on the dotted line to serve Uncle Sam in the Army, it’s going to get a lot harder to make the cut.

By the end of April, new recruits will be held to the Army’s new grooming standards–which include stricter rules on tattoos.

“Tattoos are cool thing today, 70-80% of people who come into our office have tattoos. I’ve seen 15-year-olds with tattoos,” said Sergeant First Class Robert Black with the Army Recruiting Command in Norfolk, who says these new policies will cut down on the number of enlisted they can take.

If you have a sleeve tattoo–you are eliminated.

If you have a tattoo on the face, neck, head, hands or fingers–forget about it.

If you have ink below the elbow or below the knee, you are limited to 4 tattoos, none bigger than the size of your hand.

“We have over 50 future soldiers in waiting, holding for basic training, and as of right now, 30% would not be able to qualify based on those standards,” said SFC Black.

The Army is allowing those new recruits already under contract, as well as current active duty soldiers, to be grandfathered in under the old rules—but if any of those enlisted soldiers want to try and get their commission to become an officer, they would be barred if their tattoos don’t match the new policy.

“A situation like that would definitely be disheartening to someone who wanted to be an officer and now the tattoo policy is going to stop them from being able to do it, but once again, they have to adapt to the situation to go forward,” said SFC Black.

According to the Sergeant Major of the Army, who came up with the new standards, it is all meant to keep up a more professional peacetime force.

Related:
Black women troops say new grooming rule is racially biased

31 comments

  • Brittany

    I think it is wrong that they are going to keep someone who is “grandfathered in” from becoming an officer! These rules were not put into place when they signed on that dotted line nor were they told this wad going to happen! These men and women fight for our country everyday and make sure we keep our freedom and keep us safe from harm here at home, who cares if they want to go get a new tattoo on their arm thats visible for everyone to see! If that’s what they want then they should be able go get it without being reprimanded for it!

  • me

    I’m curious as to why they are imposing this new rule. What happened to make this rule necessary? Has it been shown in the past that those with tattoos are not preforming as well as those without? Really, what is behind this?

    • ML/NJ

      My guess is that the average IQ of those with a tattoo is about 30 points lower than those without a tattoo. Since IQ test are probably seen as discriminatory these days, maybe that’s the reason.

    • John Dunkelburg

      What its all about is that the military sees the writing on the wall; with the military completing the withdrawal from Afghanistan, there will be another drawdown/’Peace Dividend’ like what we saw in the early 1990s after the end of the Cold War, or in the mid 1970s after the end of the Viet Nam War. That means that the military wants a force that looks professional in front of the cameras rather than a force than can necessarily do its job in combat. Tats don’t look all that professional, so the military will try to exclude potential new soldiers, sailors, and airmen who don’t fit the new standards from the beginning. I would expect there to be an increase in ‘early retirements’ for those who don’t meet the new requirements; we’re already seeing a limitation of their ability to be promoted.

  • Kay

    I didn’t want be an officer anyways. Hand me my E-8 and I’ll take my leave after my 20 is up. This regulation is ridiculous I mean, I understand the no face, hands, and neck because honestly I believe it is trashy but our ACU’s cover the arms so sleeves shouldn’t be an issue. I don’t know numbers but I want to say at least 40-60% of our Male Enlisted soldiers have half if not full sleeves. I’m all for rules and regs and I am never the one to question when the Army mandates something new, but the sleeve thing is just a tad bit ridiculous… When the next War opens up that we join in on this policy will fly out the window again and they’ll start letting anyone in, you know, like that had a decade ago.

  • ILSEL

    I FELL LIKE THE FACT THAT THIUS NEW RULE CAME IN A COPLE OF YOUNG STUDENTS WILL BE THEREFORE BARRED FROM THE ARMY SYSTEM WHEREAS INCLUDING MYSELF THROUTGH HIGHSCHOOL YEARS IVE BEEN FOLLOWING MY RECLUITS I HAD TATOOS AND STOPPED ONCE THIS RULE CAME ABOUT . MY DREAM TO SUCEEDING AND FITGHING FOR MY COUNTRY WONT BE MADE AFTER MAY 1ST WHAT ELSE CAN WE EXPECT FROM THOSE WHO SPEAK ABOUT LIBERTY EQUAL RITGHS AND A CHANCE FOR EVERYONE .I GUESS NOW I WONT BE ABLE TO JOIN THE ARMY AND MY STRUGGLE TO JOINING THIS 4 YEARS WAS USELESS

  • Honestly....

    I resent the implication that a tattoo makes someone less willing or able to fight for their country.

    • madachode

      But it does imply to a potential employer that the individual is reckless and is not a leader but a follower, following everyone else to the tattoo parlor because its “cool”.

      • Lana

        Just because someone has a tattoo doesn’t make them a follower. That is an ignorant statement. People get them for many reasons. And, considering the pain of getting them, I would think that the percentage of people who get them because they are followers is quite low. The people I know who have tattoos ARE leaders. Their tattoos mean something to them. They are symbolic of either a battle one, or loved ones lost. The last word I would ever use to describe them is “follower”.

        I think the army is being really silly with this one. I bet it will be repealed when admissions drop far enough.

  • Steve Dutch

    Not long ago, a tattoo was a No-Go. But with the need for recruits, they relaxed the standards. There ought to be a rule that if the Armed Forces relax standards to meet a need, they stay relaxed forever. If someone is good enough when manpower is tight, he’s good enough, period.

  • William Bachman

    We couldn’t have tattoo’s when I went to basic and AIT in 1986.After that the Army didn’t care.A ton of troop’s went out and got tat’s.
    Except for special op’s,who care’s?(the tat’a for spec op’s are an identifier)as long as you don’t look like a yakooza member.

  • MaLinda RaNae

    Maybe they should require weight guidelines be followed and uniforms be presentable first. I live in Norfolk, VA while my husband served in the Navy, and I’d lots rather see tats than those fluffy/overweights in khakis that their bellies hang over, and they are squeezed into the uniform. Seemed like they all lost the weight, looked great, got the promo and then let go. And another thing that irritates me about this is that the powers that be are going to allow all this turban wearing sh**, praying their way, etc, but tats are forbidden? Get a clue….and all along I thought this was not a communist country.

    • Biddy

      “turban wearing sh**”? how can you be so disrespectful? those people wearing turbans are most likely Sikh! the most hard-working, loyal and beave soldiers in the world! read up on Sikh history and why they wear their turbans, and then criticise them – if you can. How can someone be so ignorant. Turbans deserve 100% more respect than tattoos

      • John Dunkelburg

        If there is one group that dislikes/hates the Muslims more than the Jews it is the Sikhs. The Sikhs have been fighting Islamic Afghan raiders for almost a thousand years now, and have gotten very good at it. The British Army had almost as much respect for the martial abilities of the Sikhs as they had for the Gurkhas. There is a big difference between a turban and a keffiyeh, and the difference starts with those who wear them. Your attitudes need to be shifted to those who wear the keffiyeh; the Sikhs who wear the turban do not deserve it.

  • David R. McDonald

    Cause this is what we need to focus on as a Free Country. How about the people making these decisions worry about bigger things like a better budget for the military..we have one of the world’s greatest armed forces yet this is the main focus. Quick to slave drive someone yet slow to reward service members for the great things we have accomplished. I hope to eventually get in a position in my career to change some of the nonsense like this.

  • Jon

    My son who has some simple writing on his forearm, leaves in late july scored very high (95) when he took the test first try in Ft. Meade….! And that he could pick any skill theat he wanted.. so he pick airbourne ranger. so your thought of people with tattoos score low in false.

  • Rick

    This is nothing new. When I was enlisted, tattos were a no-no, getting one(even military-themed) was punishable by “article-15″, non-judicial punishment. The military is about “uniform”.

  • Ken

    Its so idiotic to judge/limit someone based off of a form of art, but all pawns have to look the same, right?

    “Free country”? Haha, okay…

  • Deb L

    What does it matter. Kill or be killed is a dirty business, what does it matter how much ink their skin has? The outrage should be that we as humans haven’t learned to get along without resorting to war not the art on our skin.

  • Scott

    I’ve seen a couple of people comment that people with ink aren’t as smart or have little respect for their bodies. Personal opinion I suppose but my IQ is over 180 and I have a great respect for my body. My ink actually means something to me and tells a story about my life. I understand there is a certain level of uniformity in the armed forces but there also must be room for the individual and personal expression. I served in the Army and I bet this is going to bite them at some future point. Uniformity can be taken too far and this is a bit overmuch. Well, we’ll see how this works out for them though.

  • lawngren

    From http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/pentagon-clarifies-rules-on-beards-turbansfor-muslim-and-sikh-service-members/2014/01/22/13b1fc22-83a9-11e3-9dd4-e7278db80d86_story.html :

    “The Defense Department released regulations Wednesday ensuring the rights of religious-minority service members to display their beliefs outwardly — such as wearing a turban, scarf or beard ”

    But tattoos – or crosses – are forbidden. Tell me again, whose army is this? It’s not the U.S. Army any longer. I guess it’s the obamarmy. You know, fights for the obamanation.

    • Keith Flippen

      The difference is that beards and turbans are prescribed by their faith… required. Crosses and tattoos are by choice. If Jesus required you to have a tattoo of a cross on your forehead you would no doubt be allowed. I would hope that you also have the word bigot tattooed there while you were at it.

Comments are closed.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 18,099 other followers