New Army tattoo policy underway - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Revisions to Army's tattoo policy in works

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SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) -

A new policy on tattoos is about to be finalized by the Secretary of the Army.

Sgt. Maj. of the Army Raymond Chandler confirmed to the military publication "Stars and Stripes" that new recruits cannot have tattoos below the elbows, knees and above the neckline.

Now the big question is what happens to soldiers who already have tattoos?

"People that want tattoos are going to get tattoos," said ‘Tattooed Billy' from Avail Tattoo. He said nearly 80 percent of his customers are in the Army.

Employees at Avail Tattoo are not worried about new army tattoo regulations affecting business.

"For a little while it might until they realize they will just tattoo something else," said Billy.  

In the next couple of months, the military is expected to announce new rules for soldiers with ink. Chandler confirmed to the military publication that soldiers should stand out for their achievements, not for the way they look.

Current soldiers may be grandfathered in. But "Stars and Stripes" reports they'll have to meet with a unit commander to "self identify" tattoos that may violate the new policy. 

Folks at the local tattoo shops say they have seen an increase in soldiers coming in for tattoos before these rules go into effect.

"We'll stop and let them know that it's against their regulations," said Billy.  

But he says that warning does little to change their minds.

He said their tattoos range from a memorial tattoo or something symbolizing something they did in the war.  

Under current policies, all soldiers are barred from having tattoos that are racist, sexist or extremist. Those servicemen and women could be required to pay for the removal of any offensive tattoos.

"It's months and months of a process that is very painful and very expensive," said Billy.

A local clinic that does tattoo removal told WTOC that it can cost anywhere between $150 and $500 and most tattoos require several treatments over a period of time.

This policy could go in effect in the next 30 to 90 days; they are just waiting for the Secretary of the Army John McHugh's signature.

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