Iowa National Guard leaders say no Iowa soldiers have run afoul of new Pentagon policy on tattoos, at least not yet. An updated Army directive bans visible tattoos on exposed skin when a soldier is in uniform.
Iowa National Guard Command Sergeant Major Rachel Fails, who is in charge of discipline and appearance for the Guard, says the policy addresses new trends in body art. “Some of the tattoo culture has gone to getting tattoos on the back of your neck,” Fails says. “We are just as much a profession as any civilian organization out there and we want to maintain that professional appearance.”
The new policy also bans racist or sexist tattoos for all soldiers. “The intent isn’t to immediately try to penalize or remove anybody from their service based on what previous policy had allowed,” Fails says, “but it’s an attempt to professionalize the force.” Current soldiers are grandfathered in with the new standards and Fails says they have not had to turn away any new recruits because of visible body art.