Incoming Recruits Have Much More Than Their Hair to Worry About Now


Recently the Army has endorsed a strict new policy pertaining to grooming regulations. Army Regulation 670-1 was updated March 31st after a long debate about whether or not tattoos should be visible on soldiers in uniform.


Earlier versions of the article required soldiers to keep a decent appearance, thus, no visible tattoos. The new, revised version of the regulation now says that any recruit or existing soldier can not obtain any new body art that is below the the elbow or knee. The tattoo may not be larger than five inches in diameter. Other stipulations include the high standard of no sexist or racist discriminative tattoos.


Soldiers that had been in the Army before this new policy had taken action and had their tattoos ‘grandfathered’ meaning they have to get the tattoos they already have documented. Their commanders take pictures of their tattoos and save them onto a database that documents such business. Any soldier who has body art that is thought to be disrespectful can be asked to surgically remove the tattoos or be dishonorably discharged. Soldiers that would like to start or add to their body artwork need to have the design approved by a commander.


In light of this occurrence there has been backlash. Soldiers are angry  that their right to expression through appearance is being limited.Others are calling this new regulation discrimination because of a stipulation that states that non abiding soldiers are also refused the opportunity to promote to higher ranks.  According to recruiting commander Captain Joshua Jacquez many hopeful draftees are being rejected by the Army because of already existing tattoos that do not meet the organization’s standards.


Lieutenant Colonel Jennifer McAfee of the U.S Army Recruiting Battalion in Phoenix states that there “was nothing that was getting out of hand” with the tattoos.
So, does this new regulation restrict the freedom of expression stated in the First Amendment? No, the First Amendment only protect the rights of petition, speech, religion, and assembly. This does not include any form of bodily appearance, therefore, the military can restrict appearance. For now the bare-skinned movement still stands and hundreds of recruits are still being rejected from the Army.