Tattoos in the Military: What Are the Restrictions?

Tattoos are a popular form of self-expression—and unfortunately, they can affect some decisions you make throughout your life. For example, those looking to join the military may have a choice to make if they have any kind of tattoos. We spoke to a local Army recruiter to learn more about the restrictions and guidelines.

What are the Military’s Tattoo Guidelines?

“The view of professionalism is paramount,” says the Army recruiter, “Imagine if someone had never seen a solider before and first laid eyes on one with a visible tattoo. If they have their negative opinions on tattoos in the first place, they might associate them with soldiers and think they are unprofessional, he explains.

Though there are people who have been grandfathered in with visible tattoos, the tattoo and branding military policy has been updated as of 2015:

  • Extremist, indecent, sexist and racist tattoos are not permitted on any part of a soldier’s body. Anything that can degrade, demean or discriminate another person affects the modesty, decency and professionalism of those in the military.
  • Regardless of subject matter, tattoos are not allowed on the head, face, neck, wrists and hands. The only exception is one ring tattoo on each hand that sits below the knuckle, closest to the palm. The tattoo can represent initials or a name and does not have to wrap around the entire finger to be acceptable.
  • In addition, soldiers are not permitted to use bandages, makeup or any sort of cover-up method to hide their tattoos.
  • Annual checks take place to ensure that there are no new, visible tattoos on the neck, wrists and hands.

These are just a few of the guidelines to consider before joining the military. Read the full list of regulations here.

Tattoo removal: Southlake, Texas

What Are My Options If I Want to Join the Military?

“In our society, artwork is a form of expression and tattoos are a form of artwork,” says the recruiter, “and surprisingly, seeing people who want to join the military and don’t meet tattoo guidelines gets more and more common every day.”

If your concern is a tattoo that displays inappropriate subject matter, you have the option to go to a tattoo artist and ask for a cover-up—but only if the tattoo is not on a visible part of the body. If your tattoo is visible on the wrists, hands or above the neckline, your only option is to have it removed. No matter which you choose to do, there’s one method you can count on—laser tattoo removal.

Removing Tattoos for Military Guidelines

Even if you opt for a tattoo cover-up, it typically isn’t possible without any tattoo removal sessions. There are instances where a tattoo may be faded or light enough to tattoo over, but in most cases, the colors and artwork are too difficult to hide without the help of laser treatment.

Whether you’re getting a cover-up or having your entire tattoo removed, you can count on PicoWay laser tattoo removal at Second Appearance. We treat all kinds of patients, including those who are interested in joining the military! In fact, the recruiter we spoke with has heard positive feedback from people who had tattoos removed at our practice. “He said they were very professional and treated him kindly. It didn’t feel like a medical treatment and he appreciated everyone’s attitude,” the recruiter says a young man told him.

Laser Tattoo Removal in Southlake, Texas

“A lot of people I encounter need the opportunity the Army provides and what it can offer them. Joining a branch of the military can be a fresh opportunity,” says the recruiter. 

If joining the military is something you desire, don’t let a tattoo hold you back. Be sure to contact us by calling 817.442.0999 if you need your ink lightened or removed! Plus, we proudly offer a military discount on tattoo removal services for all troops, past and present.

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