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Mission: Service — Adapting to the times, the Army loosens its tattoo policy

'Just because you have tattoos doesn't mean you can't get the job required of you'
Posted at 6:38 PM, Jul 26, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-26 19:38:18-04

BELLEVUE, Neb. (KMTV) — Staff Sergeant Bradway Widing is a recruiter with the U.S. Army in Omaha. He's reacting to last month's update to the Army's tattoo policy.

"The Army has adopted a new policy where you can have tattoos on your hands," said Widing. "As long as it's one inch in diameter, they can be on your fingers. As long as when they're closed, you can't see them. You can still have that ring tattoo, the back of your neck, two inches in diameter all around, and then, the sides of your neck, one inch. But it can't go past your ear lobes."

The U.S. Army and other military branches are having trouble meeting recruitment numbers.

More people are also getting tattoos, some of which would've been disqualifying in the past.

In an effort to ensure the oldest military branch can obtain more applicants, the Army felt the change was necessary.

"The Army is adapting to the times of today. So you know what you thought you were disqualified for. You could be qualified for now," said Widing.

Today's Army is much different than what tattoo artist Dan Botsford saw when he was in.

He opened up Absolute Tattoos and Body Piercing in Bellevue back in the early 90s when he finished his time in the Army.

"I've been here since 1994. And I was doing it probably two or three years prior to that,” said Botsford

He says back when he was in the service, a lot of people didn't have tattoos.

"Tattoos weren't real big. I think I saw my first sleeve probably in like '94," said Botsford.

But he says he understands why the Army has to change with the times.

"I was a recruiter. That's a tough job and they're not making their numbers. And if you're not making your numbers, you've got to do something. You know, you can't just leave the ranks empty," Botsford said.

Botsford says he hopes the military won't lose sight of the bigger picture.

"I hope they keep that good order and discipline, which is really about the country and not about individual wants and needs," he said.

“Just because you have tattoos doesn't mean you can't get the job required of you. The army is going to train, develop and mentor these soldiers in their job,” said Widing.

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