Wednesday, Dec 11, 2013
Army Set to Ban Visible Tattoos in Uniform
CARBONDALE -- The Army is preparing to change its policy on tattoos.
Soon, soldiers will not be allowed to have tattoos below the elbows and knees or above the neckline. Military leaders say it's a matter of maintaining uniformity.
Current regulations already prohibit tattoos on the head and face. Ink that is considered extremist, indecent, sexist or racist is also banned.
Tattoos are often viewed as a form of expression. They're also a long-standing tradition throughout our armed forces.
"As part of the military structure, you want people to feel that sense of teamwork and belonging," said SIU Veteran Services Coordinator Paul Copeland.
Copeland served nearly 30 years in the Air Force and never got a tattoo.
"In the Air Force the standard was, if it's visible when in uniform, your unit commander has the ability to determine whether it's acceptable or unacceptable," he explained.
Copeland says his branch even offered laser treatment to have unacceptable tattoos removed.
Under the new Army policy current soldiers with tattoos may be grandfathered in, but new recruits would have to pay to get theirs taken off.
"If it's going to show in uniform, it has to meet some form of reasonable appropriateness," said Copeland.
Tattoos are often used to symbolize a person, belief, or organization, but Copeland says some could be offensive.
"That's what the military would be trying to avoid," he insisted, "A tattoo that might be offensive to some other members of the military that effects unit cohesion."
SIU student Jalen Edwards, 19, of Indianapolis, Ind., doesn't have a tattoo either, but he still disagrees with the ban.
"It's suppose to be about teamwork in the Army and all of that, then a tattoo shouldn't effect the way you're going to do your job and the way you're going to serve our country," he said.
Army officials say they want their soldiers to stand out for their achievements, not their appearance. However, Edwards believes everybody should have the choice.
"The Army's taking all their time out for these people to serve our country and then you have to ban tattoos? You know, those tattoos might mean something to them before they leave and go overseas," added Edwards.
Many of you shared your thoughts on the Army's new policy on our Facebook page. Christina Dosenbach believes soldiers are held to a higher regard than others.
"I think the debate the Army is possibly taking is that soldiers are held in higher regard than everyday citizens. When they put on the uniform, they have high standards and more is expected from them," she said.
Joey Foster served in the Army and says he only cared about the abilities of the people standing alongside him.
"I personally only cared that the guy to my left and right had my back when it counted. I didn't look to see if they were covered in tattoos," he added.
The change still needs the final signature of the Army Secretary. It's expected to become official within the next 30 to 60 days.
Wind: 7 MPH
Humidity: 93 %