Army in 'final review' of new policy on tattoos - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Army in 'final review' of new policy on tattoos

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RADCLIFF, KY (WDRB) -- The needle buzzing inside this small tattoo parlor near Fort Knox has become more frequent in recent weeks. Owner Baldy Carder say he normally books up appointments a week in advance. As of late, he's been booked up for two weeks. 

The explanation: a new Army policy under final review could create tougher restrictions on soldiers with tattoos. Namely, where they can get tattoos - including a ban on forearm tattoos among other places. The current policy bans tattoos on the neck, head and face, according to Lt. Col. Justin Platt with Army's G-1 Office. Carder says his business has picked up in the last three weeks with soldiers trying to get tattooed before the new policy takes effect.

"They are trying to get everything done as fast they can," Carder said. "So I'm assuming as soon as it is signed we'll probably be slammed. We'll end up doing seven days a week."

Cody Hartman and Darius Willis, both E-1s with a combat engineering unit at Fort Knox, say they got forearm tattoos within the past two weeks - in part to get ahead of the new policy.

"I wanted to go ahead and make my point and get mine. That way I can be grandfathered in," said Willis.

Hartman, showing off his rebel-flag colored Chevrolet symbol tattoo, said of his new ink: "It's an expression to me. It's an expression of who I am and what I love. And it lets me outwardly express it."

Dave Harper, a tattoo artist at Spider Tattoo and Piercing down the road, said he's seen an increase in business as well.

"Over the last little bit we've had more of an influx due to the changes in the tattoos," Harper said.

Lt. Col. Platt, a spokesman with the Army, would not provide details of the proposed policy but said the current policy implemented in 2012 "prohibits tattoos on the head, face or neck." The statement added that commanders and recruitment officers often perform "tattoo inspections" of soldiers to make sure they adhere to the policy.

"The Army is a professional organization. It is a uniformed service where the public judges a soldier's discipline in part by the manner in which he or she wears the uniform, as well as by the individual's personal appearance. A neat and well-groomed appearance is fundamental to the Army profession and contributes to building pride and spirit essential for an effective military force," the statement reads. "A vital ingredient of the Army's strength and military effectiveness is the pride and self-discipline that American soldiers bring to their service through a conservative military image."

Platt went on to say through an email that "the Army is conducting a final review of the forthcoming uniform policy (the total policy applying to the wear and appearance of the Army uniform) prior to its implementation."

It is not clear when the policy, if approved, would be implemented. The soldiers we spoke to said it could be next week or as late as December.

"It's coming. But nobody really knows when," Willis said.


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