Army’s Stricter Tattoo Policy Leaves Less Ink On New Applications; Apparently Less Ink Means Better Recruits

The United States Army implemented a stricter tattoo policy on April 1, 2014 that set stringent regulations on the number and size of the tattoos that a recruit can adorn their body with. The new regulations are meant to bring uniformity to recruits and sort out those that might stand out in a crowds, especially those with racist or inappropriate tattoos. However, it seems as though the stricter regulations are hindering the ability for new recruits to join.

Staff Sgt. Carrington Oliver shared his thoughts on the new policy and its impact on new recruits.

“It certainly makes our job a little more challenging.”

Still, Sgt. Oliver agrees with the new tattoo policy.

“It’s all about projecting a more professional image.”

By filtering out those who might have racist or insensitive tattoos and those who push the limits of the rules, the U.S. Army hopes to be presented with better quality recruits.

Although tattoos are the main focus of the new policy, other visual impacts relate to fingernail length, use of make-up, hair style and length, and uniform usage. However, the Army Times reports:

“The new policy on tattoos is likely the biggest challenge affecting soldiers, and violation of the policy could result in adverse administrative action or charges under the Uniformed Code of Military Justice.

“In addition to banning extremist, indecent, sexist, and racial tattoos, soldiers now are prohibited from having tattoos on their head, face, neck, wrists, hands, and fingers.

“Soldiers may have no more than four visible tattoos below the elbow or below the knee, and these tattoos must be smaller than the size of the wearer’s hand.

“Sleeve tattoos are not allowed below the elbow or the knee.”

When asked about current U.S. Army soldiers and their tattoos, Sgt. Major Ray Chandler responded:

“The vast majority of soldiers that have tattoos that are not racist, extremist or sexist, we’ll probably be able to grandfather those folks in.”

According to the new tattoo policy, any soldier who does not comply with the new regulations will not be able to request commissioning or warrant.

According to AR 670-1 (the official name of the policy) the following are some highlights that must be followed:

  • Soldiers have seven days to adhere to the new grooming standards.
  • Currently serving soldiers are prohibited from getting new tattoos that don’t meet the criteria outlined in the new regulation.
  • Applicants contracted for service in any Army component or enrolled in any accession program within 30 days of the release of the new AR 670-1 are grandfathered in to the previously published tattoo policy.
  • Enlisted soldiers selected before July 1 for officer accession programs are grandfathered in to the previously published tattoo policy.
  • Active-duty commanders must complete tattoo validation memos for all assigned soldiers within 30 days of the regulation’s release. Those records must be uploaded for filing into soldiers’ human resource record within 60 days.
  • Commander of reserve component units have 120 days to complete the memos. Those records must be uploaded for filing into soldiers’ records within 150 days.
  • Soldiers who have their skill badges sewn onto their combat uniforms have seven days from the release of the regulation to make sure their name tape, Army tape and grade insignia also are sewn on

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