In March of this year the Army enforced new regulations in appearance which includes hairstyles, jewelry (including body piercings), and fingernails. Also a new regulation prohibits tattoos below the elbow and knee. Servicemen and women who already had these tattoos were grandfathered in and remained in the service. However, these regulations prohibit promotion to positions such as warrant officers and commissioned officers.
These new regulations has caused at least one serviceman to seek legal action. Staff Sgt. Adam C. Thorogood of Nashville, Tennessee has had a dream of joining the "Nightstalkers"--the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment stationed at Fort Campbell, KY. Thorogood has served 10 years of active duty before becoming a reservist and seeking aviation certification. However, his 11 tattoos may keep him from achieving this goal. He is filing suit with the US District Court stating that the regulations are unconstitutional and infringe on his freedom of speech.
Tattooing has been a tradition in the military for many years, and has only increased over the years. However, the Armed Forces have been cracking down on body art due to wanting to maintain an air of professionalism and uniformity. The Air Force (2011), the Navy (2006), and Marine Corps (2007) have also passed regulations and restrictions on tattoos.
Thorogood is probably not the only serviceman angered and frustrated with these new regulations. These men and women can proudly serve their country and be fine representatives of our armed forces, but their careers can be hindered due to choices in tattoos. It remains to be seen if Thorogood's case causes these new regulations to be overturned.