FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. — United States Army recruiters hope a new relaxed policy on tattoos will mean an increased number of new recruits after a lower-than-expected recruiting year in 2005.
Last year, the Army came up 8 percent short of its active duty goal and 13 percent under its reserve goal.
Before, Army recruiters had to turn away certain people because of tattoos. Now, soldiers can have them on their hands and neck as long as the images aren't offensive. Women in uniform can have permanent makeup.
A tattoo artist near Fort Bragg, Lori Britton said soldiers and people wanting to be soldiers had to think twice before getting a tattoo.
"We've had several people that have come in here and said, 'Yes, I want to join the military, so I need to pretty much watch where I put this tattoo,'" Briton said. "And, then, we've had a lot that come in here, 'Can you help me do something about this tattoo so I can get in the military?'"
Recruiters figure tattoos shouldn't stand in the way of landing good soldiers.
"It's definitely important just to not rule somebody out just at the drop of a hat," said Fayetteville recruiter Sgt. Zachary Stauffer. "We have a very extensive regulation that gives us tons of rules on who we can and cannot pull into the military."
It's too soon, however, to tell if the new policy is working.
Although the Army has relaxed its rules, other branches of the U.S. military seem to be tightening theirs. According to published reports, the Navy, Coast Guard, and Air Force recently adopted stricter tattoo regulations.