The U.S. Army intends to tighten its restrictions on soldiers' tattoos.
Under a proposed rule change, new recruits would not be allowed tattoos visible below the elbow or knee or above the neckline. Current soldiers would be permitted to keep any tattoos not deemed racist, sexist or extremist.
The proposed change was described to soldiers in Afghanistan on Saturday by Sergeant Major of the Army Raymond Chandler, the top enlisted soldier. He said Army Secretary John McHugh favors the change but has not yet formally approved it.
Officials at Army headquarters at the Pentagon confirmed Tuesday that McHugh had not yet made the change final.
Chandler's remarks were first reported by the Stars and Stripes newspaper.
WJBF News Channel 6's Dee Griffin has reaction to the new rules for new recruits.
Gregory Ferrante and his mother are taking the first steps toward a possible lifetime commitment to his country. Gregory has wanted a tattoo in the past.. But the Army's potential new regulation may impact his thoughts on body art in the future. "I won't get a tattoo if that will cripple me," says Ferrante.
It's something Gregory's mother has etched in his mind. "I don't mind him having a tattoo but just wait. Take a pause and reflect a little bit before you actually jump into it," explains Heather Ferrante.
For those who can't wait, the Army is close to implementing its toughest rule so far on tattoos. New recruits won't be allowed to follow in the footsteps of present and past soldiers. Tattoos will not be allowed below the elbows and knees or above the neckline.
Delainey Mambretti is a new recruit. She says, "I understand but also as a person with tattoos I think it kind of sucks."
Nearly forty percent of Dermagraphic Productions' clientele is military. Artists say the new rules won't erase many people's desire to get tattoos. Artist Christian Perkins says, "I don't think it's gonna change people's mind about getting tattoos. They'll just find other body parts to tattoo."
Also, soldiers will be barred from having tattoos that are deemed offensive. Regardless, the new rules are not closing the door on a lot of people who truly want to serve and protect their country.
Delainey Mambretti says, "It's worth it. You gotta do what you gotta do."
Gregory Ferrante agrees, "I don't disagree with anything. Tattoos can wait."
Soldiers would be required to pay to have tattoos that violate the policy. Current soldiers with tattoos in the banned areas may have to get them grand fathered in. The new rules are awaiting final approval by the Secretary of the Army. That's not the only change soldiers will see. New combat uniforms will be issued next year.
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