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Army considers tightening tattoo policy

Friday, Sept. 27, 2013 10:41 PM
Last updated Saturday, Sept. 28, 2013 2:35 AM
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Gus Richardson, a tattoo artist in south Augusta, inscribed a girl’s name and birthdate on the forearm of a Fort Gordon soldier at his Wrightsboro Road parlor.

Kymmi Flack works on a tattoo for Army Spc. Miguel Perez at New Image Tattoo. The Army is considering a policy that would prohibit new recruits from having tattoos below the elbows and knees or above the neckline.  TODD BENNETT/STAFF
TODD BENNETT/STAFF
Kymmi Flack works on a tattoo for Army Spc. Miguel Perez at New Image Tattoo. The Army is considering a policy that would prohibit new recruits from having tattoos below the elbows and knees or above the neckline.

The body art was a way for the soldier to remember his daughter while away from home, but in the next 30 to 60 days, it might not be allowed by the Army.

The Army is proposing a policy that would ban new recruits from having tattoos below the elbows and knees or above the neckline. Soldiers who already have tattoos will be exempt from the law, unless they contain racist, sexist or extremist content, Sgt. Maj. Raymond Chandler said.

The proposal has spurred many soldiers to get tattoos inked before the new rules take effect, area artists said this week.

“Most of the soldiers keep their tattoos within the guidelines of the new regulations, but lately some are coming in asking for artwork on their forearms,” Richardson said. “They want the tattoos to be grandfathered in if the new policy passes.”

Under the proposed regulation, soldiers will be required to sit down with their unit leaders and “self-identify” each tattoo.

If any artwork violates the rules, soldiers must pay for the removal.

Fort Gordon Sgt. Francis Robertson, a member of the Army’s 35th Signal Brigade, has a tattoo on both forearms and said he believes the proposed policy is “highly ridiculous” and an example of profiling.

“I don’t understand why a person may not be allowed to serve their country because they want a tattoo on a certain part of their body,” said Robertson, who has his name etched on one arm and the name of his first-born son on the other, to remind him of the reason he serves.

Robertson estimates that about 85 percent of the members of the 35th Signal Brigade have tattoos, many in places that may be off-limits in the future.

“To many soldiers, a tattoo is a part of their personality, an outward expression of where they are headed in life. It does not hinder their ability to serve,” Robertson said. “The Army wants a universal soldier that looks and sounds the same, but it needs to realize everyone is different and that is what makes the service special.”

Spc. Kimberly Pierce, of the 35th Signal Brigade, said she is considering getting a tattoo on her upper arm.

“I do not think it is fair that tattoos are brought up as a daily subject,” Pierce said of the proposed rule change. “As long as a soldier completes his or her mission, why does it matter what is on their body and where?”

Pierce said she believes some fellow soldiers go overboard with body art, but said others have images that are meaningful to them.

“A lot of people get tattoos out of respect for a person or place that motivates them to succeed,” said Pierce, who wants a tattoo to honor her late grandmother.

Local artists said the possible change is boosting sales, and they do not expect it to cause any strain on their businesses in the future. They said soldiers typically get tattoos in areas that can easily be covered, such as the back, upper arms rib cage.

“Mainly for employment purposes, soldiers like to get tattoos in places they can easily be hidden,” said Christian Perkins, a senior artist at Dermographic Productions.

Perkins said the Wrightsboro Road shop has been open 13 years and estimated between 25 percent and 35 percent of its customers are from Fort Gordon, many of them older soldiers who are heavily tattooed.

“I do not know if it (the change) will affect us. We kind of have to roll with the punches,” Perkins said. “When someone signs up for the military, they basically belong to the U.S. government and whatever it says, goes.”

Richardson, who estimated 60 percent to 70 percent of his clients are from Fort Gordon, said he believes the new rule could be a good thing, especially among the younger soldiers.

“They’re not going to be in the Army forever,” he said. “One day they might need to get a real job and not every employer wants to see tattoos in visible places.”

Richardson said he thinks any employer has the right to regulate tattoos, because employees are an extension of a company’s image.

However, until the Army passes the rule, he said he will continue to give soldiers tattoos, out of respect for their right to express themselves.

“That’s what it is all about,” he said.

Comments (12) Add comment
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griff6035
4042
Points
griff6035 09/28/13 - 04:42 am
9
1
Tattoos

I enlisted in the USMC in 1960 and was told that my body was the property of the Government and that any thing I did to my body that was detrimental to the image of the USMC was a Court Martial offence. One very small tat high up near the top of your arm was over looked. They seem to allow just about anything in today's Military and IMO that is not a good way to run things.

soapy_725
43686
Points
soapy_725 09/28/13 - 06:49 am
0
0
An Army of One. Individuals and not the Group praised.
Unpublished

An Army of One. Individuals and not the Group praised.

soapy_725
43686
Points
soapy_725 09/28/13 - 06:50 am
0
0
Everyone gets a green beret. Earned or Unearned.
Unpublished

Everyone gets a green beret. Earned or Unearned.

soapy_725
43686
Points
soapy_725 09/28/13 - 06:51 am
0
0
Some get uniforms tailored to their T&A. Some don't.
Unpublished

Some get uniforms tailored to their T&A. Some don't.

soapy_725
43686
Points
soapy_725 09/28/13 - 06:52 am
0
0
Some get ALL their hair shaved off. Some don't.
Unpublished

Some get ALL their hair shaved off. Some don't.

soapy_725
43686
Points
soapy_725 09/28/13 - 06:53 am
0
0
Some get rank only because of their different genitalia.
Unpublished

Some get rank only because of their different genitalia.

soapy_725
43686
Points
soapy_725 09/28/13 - 06:54 am
0
0
Affirmative Action Army Style.
Unpublished

Affirmative Action Army Style.

Dixieman
15328
Points
Dixieman 09/28/13 - 07:11 am
3
0
What is lacking

in this story is any statement of WHY the Army is adopting this policy. What effect could tattoos have on readiness, unit morale, good order and discipline, effectiveness as a fighting force, etc. etc.? I can't think of any.

(And the ones that proudly proclaim, "I [heart] Dixieman" must be exempted from this policy!)

nocnoc
43446
Points
nocnoc 09/28/13 - 07:16 am
8
0
No Tat's Now

but have a war and see how quick the DOD looks the other way.

I have long agreed upper arm or discreet Tats are one thing.
But some of people want the ヤクザ - 紋身 full body tat that will limit their income, career and social potential every day for the rest of their lives.

Riverman1
84920
Points
Riverman1 09/28/13 - 07:57 am
5
0
Interesting photo of the guy

Interesting photo of the guy getting the tattoo with the orthopedic contraption on his right hand. I wonder what he punched? Kind of fits. The Army had a policy a long time ago about tattoos that showed. I guess it was relaxed?

grinder48
1976
Points
grinder48 09/28/13 - 08:13 am
0
0
OK
Unpublished

I think it would be a good policy (and I'm not anti tats, have one myself ... but being covered in tats doesn't fit the right image for the military. Image is important, that - in part - is why they wear uniforms.)

Bizkit
32151
Points
Bizkit 09/28/13 - 08:18 am
3
1
Bad idea it will create a

Bad idea it will create a divide of tattooed and not. We can't have class warfare. Hee,hee

itsanotherday1
43774
Points
itsanotherday1 09/28/13 - 08:37 am
7
0
Kudos to Mr. Richardson

"Richardson said he thinks any employer has the right to regulate tattoos, because employees are an extension of a company’s image."

itsanotherday1
43774
Points
itsanotherday1 09/28/13 - 08:41 am
6
0
Can't speak to today,

but several years ago I was on post near the commissary, and saw a few young men coming and going in civvies that looked like common hoodrats.

"They seem to allow just about anything in today's Military and IMO that is not a good way to run things."

itsanotherday1
43774
Points
itsanotherday1 09/28/13 - 08:44 am
4
0
Toxic chemicals in tattoo ink?

"Recently published studies have found that the inks can contain a host of dodgy substances, including some phthalates, metals, and hydrocarbons that are carcinogens and endocrine disruptors.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2032696/Now-tattoos-cancer-U-S...

Bizkit
32151
Points
Bizkit 09/28/13 - 09:18 am
3
0
Toxic chemicals-a little Late

Toxic chemicals-a little Late to worry given it dates to early man.

itsanotherday1
43774
Points
itsanotherday1 09/28/13 - 12:15 pm
2
1
I kinda doubt early man had

I kinda doubt early man had "manufactured" inks with all of the chemicals of today, don't you?

Bizkit
32151
Points
Bizkit 09/28/13 - 02:20 pm
2
0
Most inks used in histology

Most inks used in histology came frm textile dyes. Inks have been concocted for thousands of years -often containing heavy metals, and various toxins. Carbon black, ground minerals, and plant pigments have an ancient history,
.

pgapeach2
1193
Points
pgapeach2 09/30/13 - 12:50 am
0
0
I wonder if

I wonder if the new recruit was a grad alpha, would the paperwork go up to USAREC for approval?

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