NEAR JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. — It`s been a long and colorful tradition, but times are changing for the Army. According to a new report, soldiers will no longer be allowed to have tattoos below their elbows and knees or above their necklines.
Those Q13 FOX News spoke with say the new rules cross the line.
“The military base is just right here down the street from us,” said James Tullis, of the Wicked Needle Tattoo.
For tattoo shops near JBLM, military tattoos mean big business.
“We get a lot of military guys coming in that have just come back from deployment or getting ready to go,” Tullis said Tuesday.
And right now, business is buzzing.
“They’re trying to get in before they have their pictures taken, to get them all done,” Tullis said.
Soldiers say they are racing to get tattooed before the ink dries on some new restrictions for body art.
“I think it’s bogus,” said veteran Marine and current Defense Department worker Adan Yescas. “Tattoo has always been a part of the culture, and I think it’s wrong.”
Like many of his buddies, Yescas is still healing from this weekend
“Oh, they are rushing, you know, trying to get it done fast, get grandfathered in before they (officers) catch on,” Yescas said.
Soldiers will be photographed to show which tattoos they currently have.
From this point on, any new tattoos that can be seen are forbidden, along with sexist, racist or indecent ink jobs.
“You’re going to give an 18- to 21-year-old kid a gun to defend out rights and our freedom,” Tullis said. “Why shouldn’t they be able to show their art for the ones who have fallen?”
Tattoo artists worry their bottom line could go from black to red.
“It’s gonna hurt the industry a little bit, especially with shops around military bases,” Tullis said.
And for the men and women whose actions often speak louder than words?
“Sometimes they don’t say it with words; they say it with their tattoos,” Tullis said.
“It’s just a way to express ourselves … it’s who we are,” Yescas said.
The deadline is different for each unit. Some deadlines have already passed.
Once that happens, members of the Army will be photographed to show which tattoos they currently have. Commanders will check their troops for new tattoos every year.