Self Expression or a Uniformed Service? The New Tattoo Policy is Coming Too Late

As a former enlisted member, I agree with the new tattoo policy. Nowadays you have gang related tats, racist tats, spider webs on elbows, and all kinds of potentially inflammatory text. It is a UNIFORMED SERVICE, not an individual expression company. The problem is the attitudes of the leadership and those serving have turned in to an “it’s my right” scenario. This was never the case. You didn’t have rights in a disciplined military. Today’s “kinder, gentler administration” has allowed this cancer to spread and now expect everyone to conform to it. Worst of all, they are allowed to voice their opinion.

The new tattoo policy is actually combating a few different things:

[quote_right]”…you cannot express yourself openly and maintain a uniformed military.”[/quote_right]Its principal focus is to remove the ongoing personality/personalization from the ranks. The military has gone from a strict “dress right” dress policy to a force that allows personal expression. When a disciplined unit has opinions, they are not disciplined. So the first strike is to get people back in line with acceptable standards.

Secondly, the military had always allowed tats but not out in the open. For years, many servicemen covered their chest, backs, and shoulders with typical “go to war” ink like anchors, globe and anchors, airborne wings, etc. Keep in mind that for many years, anyone with tats was not allowed to perform special duty (Rangers, SF, etc.) or anything that would ID them as American. So ink was a choice, and it was a manly thing to do, but it was never ever allowed to be seen in the open or to distract from the uniform.

Finally, this is a ploy to reduce numbers. If you are truly committed to serving your country, then removing ink is not a problem. Remove it and simply put somewhere else if you’re that in love with it. If you really want to make a career in the military, then it’s “salute the flag and follow the orders as written.” Granted, the policy might cause us to lose some experienced and good soldiers, but if they are willing to give up a career because of their artwork, then they are not really ready to sacrifice and follow orders to a T.

This softer, gentler military has caused many problems. Less stress in BCT, individuality, lack of unit cohesion, and even the removal of strict drill and ceremonies in BCT is not the disciplined military America is known for. I say the tat order is a good one; you cannot express yourself openly and maintain a uniformed military. Only problem is they are way late in this directive…..WAY LATE… and enforcing it will cost careers, UCMJ action and a fortune in medical bills.

Paul Paterson

VP of Retail Operations at US Patriot
Paul served 25 years in the Army Infantry and retired in 1999. He recently retired from US Patriot, where he was the VP of Retail Operations for the company’s brick-and-mortar retail stores.
Paul Paterson

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