05 June 2014

Ink and the Army | RallyPoint.com

Image Copyright: David Vergun/ Army.mil

By Anonymous Writer

Tattoos in the military have a long, rich history, dating back to the age of the Roman Legions sweeping across Europe.  Soldiers have used ink as a means of self-expression and individuality in an institution that has been so traditionally standardized and uniformed.  Unit insignia, names of lovers and friends, and pictures of family have adorned soldiers’ bodies for decades and have not dictated their service potential until now.

On March 31, revised Army Regulation 670-1, which governs the Army’s grooming standards and proper dress code, was updated to regulate the types of tattoos soldiers can have in the coming months and years.  Taken from the document, “Tattoos cannot be located anywhere on the neck or head above the lines of a T-shirt.  They also cannot be located anywhere below the wrist bone.” Popular sleeve tattoos are also being banned from arms and legs.  Generally, soldiers who violate the new tattoo policy but were compliant with previous policies are grandfathered in as long as commanders validate their current tattoos. Hence, the rush to cover themselves with ink before the regulations take effect.

Many soldiers are bemoaning the changes, arguing that tattoos are one of the only ways to distinguish themselves from others in the unit.  Other soldiers are welcoming the changes, saying that unregulated tattoos and piercings make the Army appear unprofessional or amateurish. In an Army Times interview, Capt. Charles Caruana said, “It is about time someone decided that the Army has ‘lost its way' in trying to be over-accommodating when it came to soldier appearance.”  

Some of the more extreme regulations really have soldiers fuming.  Soldiers will no longer wear piercings of any kind, on base or off.  Nor will they be unshaven at any time, on base or off.  Soldiers will also not be able to eat, drink, talk on the phone, or smoke while walking.

Some of these regulations seem necessary to uphold the professional nature of the armed forces, but others seem to cross the line.  What do you think?

Comment below or weigh in on the discussion here and connect within the military network.

*These opinions belong to the Anonymous Writer and in no way reflect the views of RallyPoint.

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