New tattoo policy officially out for Marines, still not as relaxed as Army or Navy’s

A 32-page booklet has been released, outlining the new Marine Corps tattoo policy taking effect today.

USMCLife received an early look at the new rules — which are “slightly more lenient” compared with the old policy.

While soldiers are permitted to sport tattoo sleeves and sailors, neck ink– Marines cannot do either.  The Navy recently loosened its tattoo restrictions to ‘attract more millennials’ and last year, the Army dropped its limit on the number and size of tattoos that soldiers can get on their arms and legs.

Marine Corps officials admit their new policy doesn’t go as far as some will want, but their goal was to “balance the Marines’ desires with the grooming standards of the Marine Corps.”

Commandant Gen. Robert Neller took Marines’ opinions into consideration when making the final decision. Ultimately, though, the Corps had to recognize the fact that America expects Marines to have a “clean-cut appearance”.

“Marine Corps officers are always held to a higher standard, be it Marine Corps grooming standards … or by leading from the front,” said Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps Ronald Green.

Several “red zone” areas, which are considered off limits include: The head and neck; The area 2 inches above the center of the elbow and 1 inch below; The area 2 inches above the wrist; Hands, with the exception of a single band tattoo on one finger that is no more than 3/8 of an inch thick; and  the area 2 inches above and below the center of the kneecap.

“[Gen. Neller] wanted the policy to allow Marines freedom and flexibility to express themselves, while also being clearly written and understandable for both Marines and their leadership,” Green added.

Green is considering getting some Marine-themed body ink, himself.  “If I get one, I think I’ll get an eagle, globe and anchor with the words ‘Once a Marine, always a Marine [and] proud to serve country and Corps,'” he told the Times.

There is a website dedicated to the new Marine Corps tattoo policy, which includes pictures, measurement tools and other information — so that Marines can print out the guidelines to take along with them when they get inked.

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  • Michele graduated with a B.S. in Telecommunication from the University of Florida’s College of Journalism and Communications. She has spent numerous years working in the news industry in south Florida, including many positions ranging from being a news writer at WSVN, the Fox affiliate in Miami to being an associate news producer at WPLG-TV, the ABC affiliate in Miami. Michele has also worked in Public Relations and Marketing.

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