Although tattoos have traditionally been prohibited in the military, restrictions on the body modification practice have been loosened in recent years. Every branch, however, maintains a strict ban on tattoos representing or glorifying racist and gang-related organizations and lifestyles. If Bauswell’s case is any indication, they view the Stars and Bars not as a symbol of Southern pride but of bigotry, something that ironically is bigoted against southerners.
“While each branch of the military has its own specific rules, the prohibition of racist, extremist or gang-related tattoos is all-encompassing.
Bauswell said ’99 percent of the reason’ why he got ‘Southern Pride’ in addition to the flag was because he did not want the tattoo to be seen as racist.
‘I felt pretty low,’ he said. ‘My own government wasn’t going to let me serve my country because of the ink on my skin.’
Tattoos have long been restricted in the military, although recently the Marines have made effort to loosen the rules.
As of their policy in 2010, officers could only have four tattoos visible when wearing the shorts and t-shirt required for the physical training uniform, according to Time.
Enlisted Marines also could not have tattoos on their hands, fingers, wrists, inside their mouths, and no visible tattoo could be larger than a fist.”
Source: Daily Mail
Bauswell’s tattoo does not appear to conflict with the current guidelines, adding validity to the claim that his tattoo was branded ‘racist’.
It’s official: Soldiers can now get their arms, legs and most of their bodies covered in tattoos.
The Army published an update to Army Regulation 670-1 on Friday, meaning the new tattoo rules are officially in effect.
Under the new policy, there are no longer limits on the size or number of tattoos soldiers can have on their arms and legs. The change strikes a short-lived policy limiting soldiers to four tattoos below the elbow or knee, none bigger than the wearer’s hand.
Face, neck and hand tattoos, however, remain against regulation, with the exception of one ring tattoo per hand. Racist, derogatory and sexist tattoos are also outlawed.
The more restrictive tattoo policy had become a sore subject for soldiers, as the new Sergeant Major of the Army Dan Dailey quickly learned through soldier feedback. Dailey was concerned the tough tattoo rules were negatively impacting morale, and he shared these concerns with Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno.
Source: Army Times