Military publication Stars and Stripes says the Army is tightening up rules when it comes to ink under the skin. Military families are split on whether new regulations on tattoos are good for the Army image or too restrictive.
"We do a lot of free work for the military because, you know, they deserve it," said James Phillips of Dancing Dragon Tattoo in Oak Grove. "They're the reason we're free."
Phillips said his business of 30 years owes a lot to the Army post across the street.
"If Fort Campbell left, this place would go poof and blow away," said Phillips.
In recent weeks, Phillips said the buzz in his shop has often turned to the new regulations for his soldier clientele.
"There's nothing you can do about it," said Phillips. "You just go with the flow. That's all you can do. You can't fight Uncle Sugar."
According to the report in Stars and Stripes, a policy is coming saying new U.S. Army recruits will not be allowed to get tattoos below their elbows and knees or above their necklines.
"It doesn't look good to get tattoos on your hands and on your neck," said Phillips. "It looks gangish, according to the military. They're trying to clean up their act a little bit."
"Someone served their country, there shouldn't be any regulations at all," said soldier family member Nick Hooper, speaking from downtown Clarksville. "It's pretty much their civic duty if they want to do it or not. We have the right to do with our body what we want."
Phillips said during a time of Army downsizing, he believes many of the regulars to take a seat at his shop will be following the new regulations.
"You have the hardcore people who are military, and they want to stay in there, they're going to play by the rules," said Phillips. "Yes, it's going to affect our bottom line because the areas they're leaving for them are a little more painful than the forearm. The chest and the sides are painful areas. The tattoos will be a little smaller, and there will be fewer of them. We've always survived, and we'll survive again."
According to Stars and Stripes, soldiers already in service will be allowed to keep tattoos that violate the new regulations. New recruits will be forced to pay for the removal of tattoos that don't fit the regulations. Tattoos that are considered sexist, racist, or extremist are currently banned under the Army's policy.
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