Murphy's Law: USMC Shuns Marked Men


March 24, 2007: The U.S. Marine Corps is cracking down on tattoos again, refusing to enlist anyone who would have visible tattoos while in their PT (Physical Training) uniforms (gym shorts and T-shirt). Tattoos have long been a favorite form of self-expression among military personnel. But since the United States eliminated conscription three decades ago, the brass have been less tolerant of recruits with lots of tats, especially visible ones. The current USMC crackdown has a lot of do with the marines making their recruiting numbers. They now have to find ways to decide who to accept, and who to reject. Folks with an abundance of tattoos are not welcome. The army, however, has loosened up on tattoos, and will probably get some people the marines turned away just because of the body art.

The marines are in the midst of an expansion (adding another 27,000 people in the next five years), and will probably be forced to loosen up on the tattoo issue eventually, if they want to get all the people they need. Until last year, the Department of Defense paid for laser tattoo removal treatments. Now the troops have to pay for it themselves, as do those potential recruits who have more tats than the recruiting rules allow. It's unclear why the brass at the Pentagon are so hung up on tattoos. One can only speculate, which is something we try to avoid.


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