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Corps amplifies tattoo policy

Although body art has increasingly gained social acceptance in America, the US Marine Corps has remained constant in upholding the highest standards amongst its members.

In the tradition of maintaining the utmost in military professionalism, the Corps is continuing to amplify its tattoo policy.

Marine Administrative Message 029/10 is the current official Marine Corps tattoo policy that seeks to balance the personal desires of Marines with their inherent responsibilities to set the example and present a sharp military appearance.

“I understand many tattoos are in good taste and many represent pride for our corps or remembrance of fallen comrades; however, I believe tattoos of an excessive nature do not represent our traditional values,” stated Gen. James T. Conway, commandant of the Marine Corps, in All Marine Message 014/07. “Marines must understand that acquiring excessive tattoos may adversely affect both their retention and assignment to special duty.”

The policy’s overall intent is to ensure Marines can be assigned whenever and wherever they are needed by maintaining a professional demeanor and the high standards expected of the Corps.

Tattoos continue to be a subject to review under certain circumstances, such as for promotion or assignment, to determine if any are prejudicial to good order, discipline or are of a nature that may bring discredit upon the Marine Corps.

The first section of the policy states, prior to enlistment into the Marine Corps, applicants with more than four tattoos will be administratively reviewed. Tattoos cannot express nudity, racism or an association with conduct or substances prohibited by the Marine Corps’ drug policy and the uniform code of military justice.

The MARADMIN also provides additional clarification to some existing regulations. It explains standards while wearing the physical training uniform and clearly states that tattoos are prohibited on the hands, fingers, wrists and in the mouth. All standards also apply to tattoos only visible by ultra-violet light.

Clarification is also given to officers and enlisted personnel aspiring to become officers.

Enlisted Marines grandfathered for sleeve tattoos have no restrictions for reenlistment or promotion, but are not eligible to apply for any enlisted-to-officer programs.

The policy gives specific authorized measurements and exact definitions of sleeve, band and excessive tattoos.

Any Marine whose tattoos are not within the standards of the current policy must be grandfathered by June 1.

“We serve proudly in every region of the world, in peace and in combat, fulfilling our role of America’s ambassadors and defenders of freedom,” said Conway. “The eyes of America and the world continually focus upon us and they expect that the Marine Corps will maintain the highest professional standards at all times.

For detailed information on the current tattoo policy, see MARADMINs 000/10 and 029/10.

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