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Air Force Tattoo Policies
The US Armed Forces are changing their minds about tattoos again. As demand for enlisted soldiers goes up and down, policies have gone back and forth like a pendulum. Recent changes in policy have left recruits and recruiters scrambling a bit. The latest branch to have these issues is the US Air Force.
According to Air Force dress and personal appearance codes, which have been in effect since 1998, excessive tattoos and brands are not permitted to be visible while in uniform. The word "excessive" is defined as a tattoo or brand that is more than one quarter of the exposed body part or refers to any body art that would be visible above the collarbone when wearing an open collar uniform.
At the end of November 2009 a new directive was issued, whereby recruits were now restricted from having any tattoos on their saluting arms. New Air Force enrollees who had joined in the last several months but not yet entered the service were caught unawares when the policies changed and they showed up for their enrollment. A good number of new admissions had been sworn into the service but then when they reported to actually begin basic training they were told they could no longer qualify for admittance.
A new grace policy has just been announced to address this conflict. Up to 17,000 new admissions in process have the potential to be affected by the policy change. Many of the new recruits are confused and several have talked to the media about how they are contemplating tattoo removal so they can continue with their plans to join the military. A few have said that they have changed their mind and will no longer pursue military service.
As the process of tattooing has gained popularity in mainstream culture, it has automatically followed that more people applying for military service are tattooed. The military has always maintained policies in regards to decorum and appearance, but they are dealing with more tattooed applicants now than ever before. With the interest in tattooing showing no sign of slowing, it would seem that in order to continue to get the quality and quantity of applicants that they need, the Armed Forces are going to have to find a way to work with tattooed soldiers.
Content copyright © 2013 by Rae Schwarz. All rights reserved.
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