Viewpoint

The Army and tattoos

From an editorial Tuesday in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

A year after tightening its policy on tattoos, the U.S. Army has nimbly backtracked. Soldiers are still prohibited from having tattoos above the neckline, but there will be no limit to the number or size of tattoos hidden by a uniform.

As an estimated 40 percent of young people have tattoos, the change should immediately help with recruiting and retention – and that’s a good thing. It also shows Army leaders to be responsive to complaints in the ranks.

In April 2014, the Army adopted a policy that banned “full-sleeve” tattoos, the elaborate designs that run the length of an arm. Further, it said that new recruits could have no more than four tattoos up to the size of their hand. Soldiers who already had tattoos in violation of the policy could keep them, but they had to be documented with photographs to ensure they didn’t obtain others.

The new policy still prohibits tattoos with racist or vulgar art. But size will no longer matter, and a single ring tattoo is allowed on the hand. “Society is changing its view of tattoos, and I think we need to change along with it,” Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno said at a news conference last week.

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