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US Army Relaxes Tattoo Policy Following Recruitment Shortage

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US Army Relaxes Tattoo Policy Following Recruitment Shortage

US army officials have revealed its relaxing of tattoo regulations in a bid to boost recruitment. 

In order to join the US army, recruits previously weren't allowed to have tattoos on certain more visible areas of their body.

However, on Thursday, 23 June, Army Secretary Christine Wormuth released an updated tattoo policy to make the recruitment process simpler, easier and more aligned with modern attitudes towards tattoos.

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The US army has relaxed its regulations on tattoos. Credit: Alamy
The US army has relaxed its regulations on tattoos. Credit: Alamy

Before the update, soldiers weren't allowed to have tattoos on their necks, behind their ears or on their hands.

However, they will now be allowed to have tattoos the length of one inch in each direction on their hands and up to two-inches on the back of their necks as per the updated directive.

Behind the ear, tattoos can be one-inch long.

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'As long as they are not visible when fingers are closed,' soldiers will also be able to have as many tattoos between their fingers as they want.

Soldiers in the US army will now be allowed to have tattoos on the back of their necks. Credit: Alamy
Soldiers in the US army will now be allowed to have tattoos on the back of their necks. Credit: Alamy

While the rules have been relaxed, soldiers are still banned from having tattoos on the front of their neck, faces and more than one ring tattoo on each hand.

They are also banned from trying to comply with regulations simply by wrapping or bandaging their tattoos.

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The updated regulations have gone into immediate effect for incoming recruits as well as soldiers who are currently in the US military.

The Army's director of military personnel management, Major General Doug Stitt said: "We always review policy to keep the Army as an open option to as many people as possible who want to serve.

"This directive makes sense for currently serving soldiers and allows a greater number of talented individuals the opportunity to serve now."

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Between October 2021 and May 2022 the service revealed it received over 650 tattoo regulation waivers, which tend to take a minimum of two weeks to be approved.

It's hoped the relaxation of the rules will help speed up the process of getting new recruits sent off to basic training.

The ease on regulations was recommended by the Army’s Recruiting Command and Training and Doctrine Command mainly for this reason.

It's hoped the relaxation of rules will speed up not only the recruitment process but getting soldiers sent off to basic training more quickly too. Credit: Alamy
It's hoped the relaxation of rules will speed up not only the recruitment process but getting soldiers sent off to basic training more quickly too. Credit: Alamy
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However, the service’s top enlisted leader for uniform policy, Army Sergeant Major Ashleigh Sykes, also explained the relaxation of rules was put into play to prevent recruits from being tempted to go elsewhere, such as the Navy or Marine Corps where regulations on tattoos are less strict.

"Some may change their mind or go to a different service. Or they just didn't want to wait anymore," she explained.

The change to the tattoo regulations follow after what Pentagon officials have reported as being some of the most difficult months of recruiting for the Army in years.

In the first five months of 2022, the army had only achieved around 23 per cent of its recruitment goal for soldiers for active-duty, according to the service's personnel chief, Army Lieutenant General Gary Brito.

However, Army Lt. Brito reassured the goal is still set to be achieved.

Recruitment levels for the Army have been low during the first five months of 2022. Credit: Alamy
Recruitment levels for the Army have been low during the first five months of 2022. Credit: Alamy

As well as being able to have more tattoos, new recruits have also been told if they sign a four-year contract and are up for going to boot camp in just 45 days after signing up that they will receive a $35,000 bonus.

Soldiers in the army who have tattoos which still violate the new policy, but have a waiver from before it was enforced, don't need to worry about being reprimanded as they will remain covered by their waiver.

The new directive also notes soldiers can still apply for waivers despite the update to the rules, particularly if they have tattoos 'for religious purposes' on areas such as their face.

St. Mj. Sykes, who has tattoos herself, stated: "Everyone has a different reason for getting a tattoos. Some see it as art, some see it as individuality, and some may even have cultural tattoos. Tattoos are more [accepted] now; it’s a change in society."

41 per cent of 18 to 34 year olds now being reported as having one or more tattoos. Credit: Alamy
41 per cent of 18 to 34 year olds now being reported as having one or more tattoos. Credit: Alamy

With 41 per cent of 18 to 34 year olds now being reported as having one or more tattoos according to research by TRADOC, Army Training and Doctrine Command enlisted chief David Andrews resolved: "[The directive] gives us the opportunity to put people in [the Army] right away that have these types of tattoos.

"We don’t want people walking away from opportunities in the Army who are otherwise qualified."

If you have a story you want to tell, send it to UNILAD via [email protected]  

Featured Image Credit: Alamy

Topics: News, US News

Poppy Bilderbeck
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