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Tattoos may stunt your career

5 Feb 2010 | Compiled by the Jet Stream Staff Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort

Updates to the Marine Corps tattoo policy stated in Marine Administrative Message 029/10, signed Jan. 15, may prevent Marines from going from enlisted to commission or qualifying for B billets.

According to the MARADMIN, the growing trend of excessive tattoos limits a Marine’s ability to be assigned worldwide and detract from one of the most visible hallmarks of our Corps – our distinguished appearance. This tattoo policy seeks to balance the personal desires of Marines with their inherent responsibilities to set an example and present the sharp military appearance America has come to expect of her Marines.

Because of this, one main reason visible tattoos can hinder a Marine’s ability to qualify for a B billet is because those positions can put a Marine in the public eye.

“Whether right or wrong, for Marines, appearance is everything” said Sgt. Maj. Thomas Ruppert, the Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron sergeant major. “Marines are known for their appearance whether they are in or out of uniform, and sometimes certain tattoos make a Marine look sloppy and unprofessional.”

According to MARADMIN 029/10, an enlisted Marine grandfathered for a sleeve tattoo by MARADMIN 198/07 has no restrictions for reenlistment or promotion as an enlisted Marine, but is not eligible to apply for the Marine Enlisted Commissioning Education Program, warrant officer or any other enlisted-to-officer program.

“Officers are held to a higher standard,” Ruppert said. “Tattoos portray different images, and if Marines think they would like to become officers, they need to have a more educated way of going about it.”

All Marines fall under the guidelines of the new policy change, even if they had the tattoo prior to the new order.

“Something new with the latest tattoo policy change is Marines who have tattoos under the grandfather rule, meaning if a Marine had a tattoo that is now out-of-regulations but had the tattoo before the regulation, they will not qualify for special duty assignments such as B billets, nor can they apply for any officer program,” Ruppert said.

A Marine’s career is in the hands of the Marine. Any Marine with tattoos or planning to get tattoos should educated themselves on MARADMIN 029/10 and any other updates to the Corps’ tattoo policy that may come.