Tattoos banned from the arms of the army

By Duke Staff

In the next 30 to 60 days active soldiers in the Army will no longer have the right to bear inked arms.

According to Stars and Stripes, a military publication, Regulation Number 620-1 will state that tattoos below the knee or elbow and above the neck have become contraband under new Army regulations.

Current soldiers that own pieces that fall under this category, will however be grandfathered into this update in protocol and must document their tattoos with officials while agreeing not to add more to the areas. Furthermore, if said tattoos are considered offensive the individual soldier must pay to have them removed according to a segment last week on NPR.

At The Duke, we understand the concept of uniformity, as many of us grew up in private schools or have worked at establishments that require such protocol. But to transcend clothing restrictions to one’s own flesh in the Army is not only contradicting the history of the military but also societal norms of today.

Any war historian will tell you that tattoos and organized militia have gone hand-in-hand for centuries. Primal art emblazed to the skin has represented rebellious, strong connotations and is still prevalent today. To take that away from the very soldiers who lay their lives on the line for our freedom, their very skin, is just plain asinine and frankly out of place in today’s society.

According to a Pew Research Center poll in 2010, 40 percent of millennials ranging from 18 to 29 years old have a tattoo and 30 percent of these tattoos are on visible areas of the skin. Couple this statistic with the surge of interest in body art from television shows such as Tattoo Nightmares, New York Ink and Ink Master, it seems strange for the Army to place such restrictions.

In an attempt to strengthen the military and become a more cohesive unit this new regulation is achieving just the opposite.

This decision has caused a backlash from troops across the country and many enlisted soldiers are swarming to parlors to add as much artwork as they can before the rule goes into effect according to an article published in The Wall Street Journal.

In a hypothetical sense if a draft were to be instituted would potential men be exempt if they had tattoos in the restricted areas? Does visible artwork define a soldier’s work ethic? Does it define anyone’s work ethic?

The answer is no, and that is something our society has become more and more willing to admit. It’s too bad that the Army cannot come to the same conclusion.