Tattoos, hairstyles, fingernails and jewelry were just a few of the topics addressed in long-awaited new grooming and uniform regulations released Thursday.
After relaxing the standards to allow more people to qualify for service during the surge in Iraq, the Army is now tightening rules as it downsizes to a post-war size.
One soldier at Calaveras Tattoo Studio in Killeen on Monday said he wasn’t surprised to see the new regulations come down hard on tattoos. He asked that his name not be included because he was speaking for himself and not the Army. While he said tattoos below the wrist and above the neck are too much, he doesn’t agree with the Army’s new rule banning tattoos below the elbow or knee.
A soldier since 1997, he said none of his tattoos — which stretch down both arms and stop at the wrist — reflect his military service, but define him as a person.
“It’s part of you as an individual. It’s being yourself,” he said. “I’m a colorful person and tattoos are something that make me stand out.”
New regulations also state current enlisted members with more than four tattoos outside regulated areas cannot commission.
“Soldiers should engage their chain of command for training and briefings on changes to AR 670-1 (the Army regulation that covers a soldier’s appearance),” said Lt. Col. Justin Platt, Army spokesman at the Pentagon.
Training materials are now available online.
Roman Deluna, owner of Calaveras, said he isn’t worried that new regulations will hurt his 6-year-old business on Fort Hood Street. His clientele varies between soldiers and civilians.
He’s already had soldiers come in discussing the regulations, but when it comes to applying ink, Deluna said he trusts soldiers to know what they can and can’t get.
“Maybe we’ll do more back designs now,” he said, referencing the ban on sleeves.
Commanders will be required to document the tattoos of their soldiers with an official memo and conduct annual inspections for new ink. This had Spc. Jyzele Fruge getting a tattoo on her forearm so it would be grandfathered in.
“It’s a way to express myself,” she said, as an artist at Calaveras inked colorful flowers on her arm Monday night. She agreed that tattoos shouldn’t be visible when a soldier is in uniform.
“I won’t get tattoos past my wrist where you can see it in uniform, because you can’t cover it up. That shows a lack of professionalism.”
As far the regulations for hair, makeup and nails, Fruge said she doesn’t have a problem. Many of them came, she believes because so many soldiers pushed the limits with fake nails and elaborate hair extensions.
Female soldiers are now allowed to wear their hair in a ponytail during physical training, instead of the previously required bun. Limitations, however, were added or clarified regarding extensions, braids and volume. Only clear nail polish is permitted for women.
“If people disagree, then there’s a door. If (the Army’s) changed so much since you raised your right hand, there’s nothing stopping you,” Fruge said.
When it all comes down to it, the previously mentioned soldier said he joined the Army to serve his country and he’ll do what is required to continue his military career.
“At the end of the day, it’s about serving and that’s why I joined the Army.”