Marine Corps Tattoo Ban

Marine Corps Tattoo Ban
Marine Corps ban on tattoos goes into effect Sunday
March 29, 2007 – 9:54PM

Lance Cpl. Chuong Le, who already has a quarter-sleeve tattoo of tribal art on his right arm, says he may get another one someday – and when he does, it will be within the Marine Corps new tattoo regulations.

“If I do, I will keep in mind the revised tattoo policy so it won’t be too extravagant or eccentric,” said Le, a legal services specialist at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma.

Le got his ink done about a year ago, after he enlisted, at Desert Tattoo Parlor, which is across the street from the base.

“It was a spur-of-the-moment decision,” Le said. “It was free-hand and I liked the way the design looked. It’s something different that nobody else has.”

Aiming to instill a more positive image for the Marines, the Corps has revised its policy on tattoos.

The new regulations are set to go into effect on Sunday.

The Marine Corps’ new policy bans “sleeve” tattoos or new, extra-large tattoos that reach below the elbow or knee.

Under previous regulations, a Marine was only prohibited from having tattoos on the neck and head.

Full-sleeve tattoos, which cover an entire arm or leg, are now prohibited. Half- and quarter-sleeve tattoos visible while wearing the physical training shirt or shorts are also banned.

Sgt. Maj. Christopher Hamel said the new regulations do not prohibit Marines from getting tattoos, they just define what is acceptable.

“Can a Marine get a tattoo after this policy change? Yes,” Hamel said. “But there is a certain criteria as to what type and shape they can get.”

The sergeant major added that the ban does not prohibit Marines from getting a tattoo below the sleeve length. What it does prevent, he said, is a Marine getting a collection of small tattoos which in a group would make a larger tattoo.

Hamel went on to say, under the new regulations, Marines who already have “sleeve” tattoos are exempt from the ban, but cannot add any more.

“They will be grandfathered in,” Hamel said.

Under the new regulations, Hamel said the base has until July 1 to photograph and document all sleeve tattoos to ensure Marines do not add to their designs.

A Marine caught with fresh ink or a new tattoo could face disciplinary action, Hamel said.

“Each case will be addressed to the commanding officer who will determine what course of action will be taken at that point,” Hamel said.

The base began informing Marines about the change in the tattoo policy earlier this month by running publications in its newspapers. E-mails were also sent to all the sergeant majors, who were to inform the Marines in their squadrons.

Hamel said he thinks there is a misconception among Marines who already have “sleeve” tattoos that having ink on their lower arms makes them ineligible for promotion and some duty assignment, or that they may be forced out of the corps.

“It’s not true as long as their tattoos conform with the new policy,” Hamel said. …

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