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Why Do Veterans Get Tattoos?

There’s a lot of speculation about why veterans get tattoos. Some think it’s because they’re trying to cover up traumatic memories, while others believe that tattoos are a way for veterans to express their service and patriotism. But what’s the real reason?

The most common reason veterans get tattoos is to commemorate their service and show pride in their military career. Their tattoos also mean honoring those who have fallen and remembering their time in the service.

This blog post will explore some of those reasons and help you understand why veterans might choose to commemorate their service with a tattoo. So, read on to learn more!

What Percentage of Veterans Have Tattoos?

According to a recent study, around 60% of veterans have tattoos. This number is growing as more and more veterans choose to express themselves through body art. Tattoos are a way of telling the story of a veteran’s experiences while in the military, and they can also be used to support veterans’ organizations or commemorate the loss of a loved one. Tattooing veterans is a way of honoring their service and sacrifice. Veterans’ tattoos have been around for centuries. Still, they have become more popular in recent years as veterans are allowed to express themselves through body art. Veterans often use tattoos to connect with other veterans who have shared similar experiences.

Does the Military like Tattoos?

Although the Army updated and relaxed its tattoo policy in 2015, it is still one of the most stringent policies across all branches of the military. The policy forbids tattoos in visible locations, such as the head, face, neck, wrists, hands, or upper chest. Essentially, any tattoos that can be seen on the body are prohibited. That said, tattoos still hold a special place in military culture.

When Did Tattoos Become Popular in the Military?

The tradition of military tattoos dates back to the American Civil War when soldiers on both sides would get tattoos as a way to show their allegiance. Throughout history, soldiers have gotten tattoos related to their wartime experiences. In World War II, tattoos became popular among veterans to commemorate their service and show pride in their unit. More recently, veterans are getting tattoos to honor the loss of a loved one or to show support for veterans’ organizations.

The first tattoo shop in New York City was believed to have opened in 1846 by German immigrant Martin Hildebrandt. He tattooed Civil War warriors around the country. In his novel Corporal Si Klegg and His Pard, Civil War veteran Wilbur F. Hinman Veteran wrote, “There was always a couple of boys in each regiment that done the tattooing. They had needles and India ink with ’em, and they’d make up designs for comrades willing to pay ’em for it—flags an’ muskets an’ things like that.” The Ohio 65th Volunteer Infantry was one of the first military servicemember groups to get tattoos. This act started a trend that has continued throughout history. The iconic Marine Corps emblem is so widely loved that even Smedley Butler had it tattooed on his body.


Which Branch of the Military Doesn’t Allow Tattoos?

The US Marine Corps has long maintained the most liberal tattoo policy of any military service. Marines are expected to have a clean and professional appearance without any tattoos. The same regulations apply to recruiters and other Marines in uniform. On the other hand, veterans are permitted to receive tattoos that are appropriate for a professional setting. These tattoos must not be offensive or inappropriate and must conform to the Marine Corps tattoo policy standards.

With an understanding that society is constantly evolving, the Marines have decided to relax their policy on tattoos. Recently, veterans have been allowed to get tattoos in approved locations, such as their arms, legs, or backs. The tattoos must be tasteful and professional and should not contain offensive language or imagery. This policy change has led to an increase in veterans getting tattoos that honor their service or commemorate their experiences while in the military. They’ve broadened their standards to welcome recruits with the ink of varying sizes, shapes, and styles.

Tattoos on a soldier’s face are prohibited by the Army and will remain so. The permitted body art is allowed on a soldier’s arms and legs, but only if it is not visible above the collar. To comply with the regulation, soldiers cannot cover up their tattoos with bandages or wrappings. Instead, they must be covered up with a long-sleeved shirt and trousers.

The directive states tattoos cannot have violent, bigoted, or hateful words or pictures. Tattoo paragraphs in the Army’s Appearance standards state that service members are not allowed tattoos on their faces, neck, or hands. Inspections make sure soldiers keep their ink within the guidelines.

Will the VA Pay for Tattoo Removal?

As a general rule, you will have to pay for tattoo removal services yourself—the government and health insurance companies typically do not cover the cost of tattoo removal. However, some clinics offer tattoo removal in some states, and veterans may be able to receive assistance from the VA for tattoo removal.

How Strict is the Army With Tattoos?

Tattoo size limit — no larger than 2 inches for the back of their neck and 1 inch behind each ear. Furthermore, tattoos between fingers are permitted as long as the motifs “cannot be seen while the fingers are closed,” according to officials.

Soldiers are allowed to have tattoos on their hands and arms, but the Army does not permit offensive tattoos. The military also bans visible body art that is deemed prejudicial to good order and discipline. Examples of designs prohibited by the Army include gang-related tattoos, nudity, or any other symbols or markings that can be seen as extremist or hateful.

While tattoos are a way to commemorate experiences and honor veterans, veterans should be aware of the rules and regulations associated with military tattoos before getting any permanent designs. It is important to consult the regulations within your branch of service before considering any inking. Tattoos that do not meet military standards may lead to disciplinary action or even being discharged from the military.

Whether veterans are looking to get a tattoo or need to have one removed, they should be aware of the regulations and guidelines associated with military tattoos so that they can make an informed decision before moving forward. Veterans may also be able to receive assistance from the VA for tattoo removal, depending on their location. By understanding all aspects of veterans’ tattoos, veterans can honor their service and sacrifice in a meaningful way.

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