JOINT BASE LEWIS-McCHORD, Wash. — Soldiers’ strong objections to the Army’s tattoo policy have caught Sergeant Major of the Army Dan Dailey by surprise — and he’s planning to measure the extent of this dissatisfaction, across the service.
“I don’t want this to be the deciding factor for a good soldier to get out,” said Dailey, who took over as the Army’s top enlisted leader on Jan. 30.
If he finds this to be a force-wide issue, Dailey said action may be necessary. The SMA said he will keep an ear out for soldier concerns on tattoos, and any other issues, in the weeks and months to come.
This week Dailey embarked on his first troop visit as SMA, heading to JBLM.
I’m surprised that he’s surprised. It’s a very emotional issue.
I’m not a tattoo guy. I can’t even stand the thought of getting one.
But for many, their ink is a mural telling their story, and often, a memorial to their friends.
Further, there’s a very strong perception in the ranks that the new tattoo policy is seen as a tool to purge the ranks of people, not based on the quality of their performance and service, but upon the most superficial of reasons such as appearance.
Full sleeve tattoos were not common at all back in my day. And back then, the regulation basically said that if tattoos weren’t visible while in the Class A uniform, there was no issue.
But of course, troops often spend a lot of time not in the Class A uniform. Be it in PT uniform, or in short sleeves, many soldiers today have large tattoos that are far more visible than those soliders of my generation wore.
SMA Daley raises the question of what the public perception of the American soldier is. But really, is that a sufficient cause to curtail the careers of proven soldiers, particularly at a time when the Army and other services appear to be rushing to indulge in ever expanding social engineering experimentation?