We live in an era where the importance of freedom of speech is emphasized to a great extent. When it comes to freedom of expression, the type of expression is unique to every individual and can take a range of methods and forms. Even forms that were once considered mutilation are now widely accepted and celebrated.
When it comes to the United States Military, the relationship between the military personal and tattoos cannot be denied. However, there have always been standards across all U.S. military branches as to the tattoo’s content, location and size that personnel can get done on their body before the enlistment process.
These regulations help maintain a standard appearance, in the same way that each military branch maintains its standards for a uniform. In order to enforce these regulations, the recruits receive a full physical check up to evaluate whether or not they’re fit for duty. In this physical examination, you will also be looked over by a military doctor who’ll assess the artwork you have on your body to determine if it violates any of the military’s policies on tattoos.
Below you’ll find the tattoo policies of the US Navy, Army, and Marines.
United States Navy
In terms of the tattoo content, the US Navy doesn’t want their sailors covered in gang signs or swastikas. In short, if a tattoo has the potential to jeopardize the cohesion of the unit, incite anger or happens to be explicit in nature, the Navy doesn’t allow it.
In terms of tattoo location, as long as the content of the tattoo is approved, so is the location. However, exceptions to the rule include the face, head, neck and arms. Every military branch, including the navy has a short sleeved uniform, which is why the policy on getting your arms tattooed is in place. A tattoo should be no larger than your open hand anywhere on the body, and must be covered by the sleeve if it’s on the upper arm.
United States Army
There have been some recent changes to the Army tattoo regulations. In general, their policy is more relaxed than the Navy’s while maintaining the same overall set of rules. Any tattoo considered extreme, sexist, indecent, or racist is prohibited, and the same location restrictions as the Navy’s policy apply.
United States Marines
The US Marine’s regulations are more restrictive than the Army or Navy. The same general content restrictions apply, meaning anything racist, extremist, eccentric or vulgar is prohibited. Personnel aren’t allowed to get tattoos on their neck, head, wrist, hand or fingers. and the tattoos inside the uniform should be no bigger than the size of a hand.
United States Military Personnel who have enlisted prior to the policy change can still be promoted and continue with their services, but in the case of new recruits, many tattoos are no longer allowed.
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