Air Force relaxes tattoo rules to attract more recruits


The U.S. Air Force will institute new, more accepting policies on tattoos and marijuana usage next month in an effort to boost recruitment numbers.

Under the new policy, tattoos will no longer be restricted by the “25 percent” rule, which stipulated that authorized tattoos on the chest, back, arms and legs could not cover more that 25 percent of the exposed body part.

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“As part of our effort to attract and retain as many qualified Airmen as possible we periodically review our accessions policies,” said Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James in a written statement. “In this instance, we identified specific changes we can make to allow more members of our nation to serve without compromising quality.”

The U.S. Air Force announced Jan. 9, 2017, that it will institute revisions to its tattoo policy in an effort to earn more recruits.

The U.S. Air Force announced Jan. 9, 2017, that it will institute revisions to its tattoo policy in an effort to earn more recruits.

The revised policies, which were announced on Monday, will go into effect Feb. 1, 2017.

The new policy regarding prior marijuana usage will remove the service-prescribed numerical limitations of prior use of marijuana when determining eligibility.

A medical diagnosis of substance-related disorder or addiction will remain disqualifying, and any past legal proceedings regarding past marijuana usage will be “reviewed and adjudicated separately” and may be disqualifying.

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“These changes allow the Air Force to aggressively recruit talented and capable Americans who until now might not have been able to serve our country in uniform,” said Air Force Chief Master Sgt. James A. Cody in a written statement.

According to a recent review of Air Force field recruiters, almost half of contacts, applicants and recruits had tattoos. Almost one-fifth of those had tattoos that would be disqualifying under the 25 percent rule.

“We are opening the aperture on certain medical accession criteria and tattoos while taking into account our needs for worldwide deployability and our commitment to the profession of arms,” James said.

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The new policy will still prohibit tattoos, brands or body markings on the head, neck, face, tongue, lips and scalp, and hand tattoos will be limited to one single-band ring tattoo on one finger of one hand.

Also still prohibited are any tattoos that are “obscene, commonly associated with gangs, extremist and/or supremacist organizations, or that advocate sexual, racial, ethnic or religious discrimination remain prohibited in and out of uniform,” according to the statement.

Twitter: @calebjdowns


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