Tattoo Policy at the Academy

Discussion in 'Naval Academy - USNA' started by sabgr8jr, Feb 14, 2012.

  1. sabgr8jr

    sabgr8jr Member

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    **I do not have a tattoo.

    I was talking to some friends while we were watching the Army vs. Navy basketball game and we saw a Mid with a tattoo on his arm. I was wondering what the Academy thinks of tattoos that are present before enrollment at the Academy, receiving one while at the Academy, and what the military thinks about them after graduation from the Academy.
     
  2. Whistle Pig

    Whistle Pig Banned

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    It's generally loose and getting more so. Can't have exposed and/of offensive 'toos. In some cases they'll waive them, and in others they'll give the 'tooed two years or so to become un-tooed. A hummingbird inked on the end of ... your big toe is likely not a problem. And if one is coming from the Fleet, likely to be ok.
     
  3. futuremid

    futuremid Member

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    I had one before I started the application process. You don't necessarily need a "medical" waiver, but they do have extra paperwork/questions that you must answer about your tattoo. Mine's all in regs though. It's on my side, so it can't be seen. It's not bigger than the palm of my hand and it's all black/no color. It also has no offensive meaning.

    I was talking to mids about this on the yard this week. You can get tats coming in. If you get them there, major conduct offense. The mid I talked to got one at the Academy & she was on the swim team. It was all in regs, but she still couldn't swim for a chunk of the season because of it. So choose your battles wisely.

    But just from someone who has a tattoo, wait til you're older. I don't regret it, but I definitely should have waited until I was old enough to make a decision like that.
     
  4. Whistle Pig

    Whistle Pig Banned

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    Sound counsel. Especially the part about "wait til you're older." :wink:

    Like 50 or so. By then the temptation will likely to have passed ... and if not, the recognition that it looks like BLEEP on a wrinkling, budding blimp and will disallow Ford hiring one as a used car salesman if it shows might suffice as deterrents. :eek:
     
  5. Hurricane12

    Hurricane12 USNA 2012

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    Actually, WhistlePig is pretty much completely wrong.

    At USNA, tattoos can be very much a no go.

    -If you have them before coming, they have to be thoroughly documented and then get waived by the "Body Alteration Review Board." Depending on where they are/what they are/size, you may have to get them removed.
    This applies for priors as well. I know of one prior Marine who had to (very painfully) get a large tattoo on his forearm taken off before he could commission.

    -Do not get a tattoo at USNA. We get "tattoo training" every semester, which basically boils down to "don't get a tattoo." If you say "screw that, I'm getting one anyway," the removal comes out of your paycheck. If you've signed the tattoo training saying you didn't get one and did anyway, enjoy your honor offense. Fun!

    After USNA, it depends. Some services have very strict regs about where/what you can have tattooed. For USMC, the word I've gotten from Marines is "wait until after TBS/MOS school" at the very earliest.
    There seems to be a little bit of a stigma against it from older officers, but most JOs don't seem to care and the attitude towards it higher up seems to be changing. Of course, this only applies to tattoos that aren't commonly visible in uniform. Services differ on the regs, but a rule of thumb is not visible in service uniform/PT gear (depending). Face/hand/wrist tattoos are likely never going to be a go, especially now that the military is downsizing and not likely going to waive stuff like that for enlistees anymore.
     
  6. usnabgo08

    usnabgo08 USNA 2008/BGO

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    Navy's Official Policy (Uniform Regulations), which is less restrictive than while at USNA:


    "7. TATTOOS/BODY ART/BRANDS. Four Criteria will be used to determine whether tattoos/body art/brands are permitted for Navy personnel: content, location, size and cosmetic.

    a. Content. Tattoos/body art/brands located anywhere on the body that are prejudicial to good order, discipline, and morale or are of a nature to bring discredit upon the naval service are prohibited. For example, tattoos/body art/brands that are obscene, sexually explicit, and or advocate discrimination based on sex, race, religion, ethnic, or national origin are prohibited. In addition, tattoos/body art/brands that symbolize affiliation with gangs, supremacist or extremist groups, or advocate illegal drug use are prohibited.

    b. Location. No tattoos/body art/brands on the head, face, neck, or scalp. The neck area for purposes of this regulation is any portion visible when wearing a crew neck T-shirt or open collar uniform shirt. In addition, otherwise permissible tattoos/body art/brands on the torso area of the body shall not be visible through white uniform clothing.

    c. Size. Individual tattoos/body art/brands exposed by wearing a short sleeve uniform shirt shall be no larger in size than the wearer’s hand with fingers extended and joined with the thumb touching the base of the index finger. Tattoos/body art/brands that exceed size criteria are waiverable provided they do not violate the content and/or location criteria.

    d. Cosmetic. This regulation does not prohibit cosmetic tattooing to correct medical conditions requiring such treatment. For the purpose of this regulation, cosmetic tattooing refers to medical or surgical procedures conducted by licensed, qualified medical personnel.

    Four Criteria will be used to determine whether tattoos/body art/brands are permitted for Navy personnel: content, location, size and cosmetic."
     
  7. kinnem

    kinnem Moderator

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    ^^^ This seems like a topic where I should post some advice I gave to my son who is an NROTC MO midshipmen. He has always wanted an Eagle, Globe, and Anchor tatoo on his back, which is, of course, discouraged but would fall within the regs. I suggested he not put any marks on his body that would identify him as a probable member of the US Military. You never know what the bad guys will do if they find that on you, even when you're out of uniform. It brings to mind the US Navy personell who were shot and killed during an airplane highjacking in the Middle East during the 70s (as I recall).
     
  8. Whistle Pig

    Whistle Pig Banned

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    I understand what Hurricane's saying. But reality is that there is much huffing and puffing about these but absent extreme circumstances, they will not bring expulsion, nor prevention of admission of those whom they want. Ask Polamalu
     
  9. suddensam

    suddensam USNA BGO

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    I have no knowledge of the process whatsoever, nor do I claim to have any insight into Midshipman Palamalu's experience. But I do know that he is of American Samoan descent, and as I understand it, tattoos are viewed among Samoan people as a sign of cultural identity. My guess is that Navy would take that into consideration when making a decision about whether Mr. Palamalu's tattoos are appropriate. That and the fact that he was a nationally ranked football prospect.
     
  10. flieger83

    flieger83 Super Moderator Moderator

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    Hi!

    Okay, first, I realize this is the USNA forum and I'm a "lurker" type from the home of the CinC's Trophy...:biggrin:

    Okay, that just slipped out...

    Seriously though...it would seem that USNA is very much in synch with USAFA and we're pretty thorough on "tat's." And what I've read above is pretty much precisely what we ALO's brief our candidates and potential applicants/candidates.

    While we/I don't much care about anyone's personal thoughts on tattoo's, the USAF/Military is a bit different there. I remember as a kid seeing the senior NCO's on the base with their arms all tattooed...never saw an officer and when I asked my father he told me that officer's didn't do that, only enlisted.

    Those were the times we lived in.

    Now? I know plenty of "O's" and "E's" with beautiful work...but you'd never know they had it because its, for want of a better word, hidden. The rule "can't be visible in any uniform, to include the PT uniform" is pretty much sacred writ.

    I do know a pilot that got a nice USAF crest on his forearm while drunk on a TDY...

    And I watched the pain in his eyes as he had it removed by laser...and the cost financially, and militarily (his commander gave him an article 15 for willful violation of a lawful order) was ugly! He has survived it but...

    Just be careful...heed the advice of the much more learned USNA folks on this board, I'm just a USAFA lurker...but we're all US Armed Forces. :thumb:

    Steve
    USAFA ALO (Same as a BGO)
    USAFA '83
     
  11. 2012mom?

    2012mom? Member

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    Please, listen to Hurricane. She has "been there, seen that" as a Mid for nearly 4 years. The rest of us who are not current or former Mids/officers are guessing and passing along heresay.

    What's the worst that will happen if you listen to Hurricane and she's wrong? You'll get your tattoo a few years later than you otherwise might.

    What happens if you listen to the, "In reality, it's not really an issue," advice?" You could either be denied admission after your tattoo description is reviewed by the panel. Or if you got a tattoo after arrival at USNA, you could be called up on an honor violation, which could lead to your expulsion. Not saying that it would happen, because I'm not an expert, either. I do, however, believe in considering the worst case scenarios before making informed decisions.
     
  12. 1964BGO

    1964BGO Member

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    Another vote for Hurricane and the others urging caution before turning yourself into an ink gallery. If you don't have tats, don't rush out and get them; if you have them report and document them. Back in the day we had one discussion re tats - DON'T! Part of the rationale was that it wasn't considered officer-like, and the other part was you may live to regret your tat exposing you as a member of the US military. Another allusion should be considered: Tats are addressed negatively in the regs; with the RIF starting to rear its effects on service retention, you would be prudent to consider the probability that violations of regs will spell the end of a blooming career.
     
  13. Whistle Pig

    Whistle Pig Banned

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    I'd not take the OP's question as anything more than what was "wondered" about. Nor am I advocating tatooing or considering it anything but risky and foolish.

    That noted, I'll stand by my observations as being totally accurate, Within the boundaries noted, many Mids have tatoos.

    Let me repeat ... lots of smoke, not much fire about this issue. Unfortunately.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 16, 2012

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