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Your Disqualified, Airman.

December 14th, 2009 by

It’s hard to believe that one of the historical bastions of tattooing, the military, would turn its back on a tradition that goes back decades, if not further. But yes it is happening. The military is turning its back on tattoos.

Not only has the Marine Corps, and the Navy enacted stricter tattooing regulations, but now it would seem having visible tattoos can actually keep you out of some branches of the military.

Recently the Air force upped it’s tattooing regulations to the extent that having certain placement of tattoos will disqualify you from service un the USAF.
George's tattoo
Such is the case for one  George Sanchez of Sacramento Ca. One day before shipping off to boot camp in Texas, the 19 year old was told that his tattoo disqualified him from service. (Damn, couldn’t they have told him that before he took the physical, and oath?)

In truth they couldn’t because the regulations about tattooing didn’t apply to George until recently. Still it would seem to me that once you were sworn in you are in that particular branch of the armed services. I do know that if you don’t report for duty after taking the oath they will treat you as a deserter. So it seems to me that George beat the deadline on that one.

The changes did not take effect until after he was sworn in. So what are they going to do? Discharge everyone in the Air Force who has tattoos that violate the new standard?

According to the USAF regulations:

“For Air Force members, tattoos and/or brands anywhere on the body that are obscene or advocate sexual, racial, ethnic, or religious discrimination are prohibited in and out of uniform. Any tattoos and/or brand prejudicial to good order and discipline or of a nature that tends to bring discredit upon the Air Force are prohibited in and out of uniform. An Air Force member is not allowed to display excessive tattoos that would detract from an appropriate professional image while in uniform. Excessive tattoos are tattoos which cover over 25% of the body part.”

According to the revision :

4. Exposed body parts. If the authorized tattoo(s) covers more than 1/4 (25%) of the entire exposed body part or if it detracts from an appropriate professional image while in uniform, the applicant is not qualified to enter the AF.
a. Arms: from the elbow to the wrist. From just below the short sleeve to the elbow. No tattoos on the saluting arm.

So where was George’s offending tattoo? You guessed it, Gang. On his saluting arm. Damn! I knew a shitload of people in the sixties and seventies who could have saved a trip to Canada if that reg had been in place then.

I’m still betting it won’t hold water if they suddenly reinstate the draft for a national emergency.

4 Responses

  1. chiefy

    Darn, guess I’ll never get into the airforce.

    You’d think they’d just be happy that people would choose a job like that of their own free will.

    Who cares what soldiers or pilots or sailors look like? Can they do their job? Because that’s all that matters.

  2. Tattooluum

    Its all about control…how you dress, how your hair is cut, how you act…everyone looks the same and therefore should think and act the same too….its a bit sad..the beauty of art and tattoos is to express yourself…you do not even have control over your mind or body anymore

  3. Tattooluum

    Sad to think that one onf the foundations of tattooing history is becoming so shallow as to allow its control to make everyone the same when in the past it was one of the main avenues to get tattoo elf-expression. Put it in the history books and look forward to says to your grankids…I remember when you got tattoos because you were in the military!!!!

  4. Shep

    Wow! Things really are strict in America! I’m a sailor in the (UK) Royal Navy, and the regulations are thankfully much nicer. Basically, definately no face or scalp tatts. Discretion is given for hands\behind the ears. I was accepted with a celtic ring tatt on my middle finger, and also have a star behind my ear, and I would say that i’m now more tattoo than skin. :-) Most of our guys are quite heavily tattooed, and I even saw a chief who was tattooed right up to his chin! It’s still officially frowned on a bit, but it’s the merit of the individual which comes first. As, no matter who you are, everyone is trained to the same high standards of personal conduct, and to relay the Service in the best possible light. Something America could perhaps learn from? :-)

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