New military tattoo restrictions concerning to some hopefuls

New military tattoo restrictions concerning to some hopefuls

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) — The Army is the most recent branch of the military to tighten up its tattoo policy. The new, more restrictive policy prevents applicants from having tattoos on their head, neck or wrists.

Visible arm and leg tattoos must be able to be covered with one hand, and sleeves are prohibited.
 
Many military hopefuls are now being turned away because their tattoos violate the policy.
 
“Sadly, I was turned down because of the little ink you can see sticking above my collar on my neck,” said Zach Bunker, who wants to join the Navy. 
 
Bunker has two music note tattoos on his neck which he got a few years ago, and now they are preventing him from being enlisted.
 
He said his appointment with his Navy recruiter went well until the tattoo topic came up, and he was told he would need to have them removed. 
 
Bunker said he understands that some policy is in place, but he feels it should be more lenient.
 
"If they’re racist or if they’re hateful, of course, you’re gonna have to get them removed, but the small half inch to an inch that you see on my neck ... I honestly don’t think would offend most people,” he said.
 
Bunker isn’t alone.
 
Cole Wagoner recently met with an Army recruiter and had a similar encounter. 
 
"When I went in, he was telling me, ‘Your tattoo might be a problem, but we can get you in before the tattoo policy,'" Wagoner said. "They take pictures, send it in, it comes back. ... My tattoo is not going to let me in, because I can’t cover it with one hand."
 
Wagoner’s tattoo in question is a Bible verse and cross on his lower arm.
 
These young men are just two of many that have been turned away.
 
Theresa Seng, a gunnery sergeant with the Marines, said the policy is in place to reinforce the uniformity and appearance of the enlisted as professionals.
 
"When they decide to get out, their appearance isn’t eccentric, so they can take the leadership skills and professionalism and everything they learned and transition into the civilian workforce much easier,” Seng said.
 
In order to be considered, applicants must have tattoos that violate the policy removed. Those who had tattoos that violate the policy prior to it being in place are grandfathered in, and their tattoos are documented.