Tattoo Policy: Air Force Rolls Up Sleeves

Tattoo Policy: Air Force Rolls Up Sleeves

Tattoo Policy: Air Force Rolls Up Sleeves

On any given morning in a scene played out across the nation, a handful of young men and women will walk into a local Air Force recruiting office and have their body art scrutinized and inventoried. No longer will they be rejected for their tattoos.

The Air Force is rolling up its sleeves.

According to Maj. Bryan Lewis, an Air Force spokesperson, tattoos may now cover a larger portion of a body part. Pilots, navigators and airmen will be permitted to “pull the sleeves up to within 1 inch of the elbow using the Velcro, already incorporated in the suit, to hold them in place,” he said.

The policy shift is designed to open doors to a larger pool of potential recruits. The Air Force is planning to grow by some 4,000 airmen this year, alone.

“These changes allow the Air Force to aggressively recruit talented and capable Americans, who until, now might not have been able to serve our country in uniform,” said Chief Master Sgt. James A. Cody.

Under the previous rule, airmen were not allowed to have tattoos on the chest, back, arms and/or legs that were larger than 25 percent of the exposed body part. But, Air Force recruiters acknowledged that almost half of the contacts, applicants, and recruits, that they talk with, have tattoos – one in five having body art that would require a review or could disqualify them from service altogether.

“The military has had a long love affair with tattoos,” said Chris Madiera, chief operating officer at Monster Steel, a Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.-based e-commerce provider and supplier of a full line of tattoo products for the tattoo industry including U.S. military-themed steel belt buckles . “While styles and themes may change over time, Monster Steel has found that servicemen are definitely tattoo enthusiasts.

Servicemen will still be required to cover tattoos while in dress uniform. Air Force personnel will also be permitted one single-band ring tattoo on one finger, on one hand. Tattoos that are considered obscene or associated with sexual, racial, ethnic or religious discrimination are still prohibited, as well as those on the head, neck, face, tongue, lips and/or scalp.

Photo c/o: U.S Air Force

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