Alongside numerous reforms in several branches of the United States Armed Forces, the Air Force is now allowing its members to have tattoos pretty much anywhere but their hands and faces. This change in policy reflects both the military's willingness to embrace a more tolerant and inclusive perspective in the face of low enlistment and body art's ever-growing popularity around the world.
The US Armed Forces has had a long, fraught relationship with body art. The diaspora of the traditional American style, for instance, grew largely out of the wartime atmosphere of the 20th century, when tattoos made their first foray into the mainstream as soldiers got them overseas, bringing the art form home with them . Though there is a direct link between American military history and the tattoo industry, the various branches' regulations have not been kind to body art and its uniformed collectors. Thankfully, that seems to be changing due to more progressive thinking on the behalf of some of the higher-ups in the Air Force.
The change in policy, which will take effect in February, was recently announced in an article by Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee Jameson on the branch’s official website. “As part of our effort to attract and retain as many qualified Airmen as possible we periodically review our accessions policies,” she said. “As a next step in this evolution, we are opening the aperture on certain medical accession criteria and tattoos while taking into account our needs for worldwide deployability and our commitment to the profession of arms.” With this alteration in their restrictions on body art, soldiers no longer have to abide by the "25% rule," which limited the amount and size of tattoos that they could have on their bodies.
Here's to hoping that other branches of US military follow the Air Force's example in the future and start allowing more servicemen and women to sport tattoos. These individuals put their lives at risk for the country on a regular basis, if they are to lay their bodies on the line for the sake of others, then they should be able to get inked, too.