Tattoo artist Jimmy McMahon estimates six out of ten clients who come to his Jimmy Mack Custom Tattoo shop in Haleiwa serve in the military. Many of them are soldiers who want tattoos that remind them of home.
"They want Alaska or Texas or North Carolina. I've done almost every state, depending on where a military guy is from," he said.
New Army regulations recently leaked in a private Facebook post spell out exactly where soldiers can and can't have tattoos, how many they can have, and how big each tattoo can be. McMahon said soldiers are concerned, to the point where one soldier recently had McMahon measure his arms.
"He brought in this pt shirt, a gray Army shirt," McMahon said. "He put that on for me and had me photograph him. He plans on raising in rank and doesn't want to get in trouble for being out of regulation."
The new rules say enlisted soldiers who exceed the tattoo limit can't request a promotion to commissioned officer. And no soldier will be grandfathered in.
Latisha Redmon's husband is a Staff Sergeant at Schofield. He has tattoos. She thinks the new rules are too restrictive.
"If it's something that's gang related, I can see that. But if it's something that's basically going to tell a story, to me ain't nothing wrong with it," she said.
The new regulations will allow up to four tattoos below the elbow or knee, and none on the face, neck and hands.
"Maybe it will be positive in what tattoos they do get will look neat, finished, and won't go in for years and years with an unfinished look that I see a lot in military," McMahon said.
Redmon's husband has a tattoo on his neck. She said he's talked about taking it off.
"From what my understanding is to get it removed is more painful that it was to get it put on there," she said.
"Another aspect of it that I'm hearing is how will they regulate this? There's so many people," McMahon said.
The Army relaxed grooming standards in 2006 when it needed to grow its numbers. Soon that branch of service will shrink the canvas for body art. The Secretary of the Army has signed off on the new regulations. All that is left is the go-ahead date.
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