Army changes rules on soldiers' appearance


A new stricter Army policy limits where soldiers can and can't have body art.

Troy Bankard got a new tattoo Monday. He says it's a symbol of machismo.

"I like the pain," said Bankard. "It reminds me I am human."

However, Bankard is very careful now about where he puts tattoos on his body.

"It's a rule, you know," said Bankard. "Don't make the rules but is what it is."

The new policy is all spelled out in a 57-page training program on grooming and appearance.

An Army spokesman says the policies, "give soldiers and leaders the responsibility for ensuring our appearance reflects the highest level of professionalism."

Those guidelines affect every soldier at Fort Bragg from hair length and style to uniforms and tattoos. It prohibits tattoos on the face, head, neck, and hands. No tattoo sleeves are allowed on arms and legs. No more than four tattoos can be visible below the elbow or knee.

At Tattoo World near Fort Bragg business has been booming before the new regulations took place.

"We have had quite a few customers come in asking us if we have heard anything, a lot of people trying to schedule appointments," said manager Kat Gonzales.

Among the other new rules: Soldiers cannot eat, drink, smoke, or talk on cell phones while walking.

The changes affect not just military uniforms and grooming, but civilian attire as well. Rules define what soldiers can wear on- and off-duty,

It's still up for discussion, but senior military leaders say tattoos that don't meet the new requirements may have to be removed if the soldier wants to remain on active duty.

Some soldiers told ABC11 that the new regulations won't stop them from getting tattoos.

» Click here to see the new regulations. «

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