Policy change prohibits tats in RS, MSG

19 Sep 2008 | Cpl. Jessica Aranda

A recent change in the Marine Corps’ tattoo policy bans Marines with sleeve tattoos from serving as recruiters or Marine Security Guards.

However, the change allows current recruiters and security guards to complete their tour in their respective duty assignments.

According to Marine Administrative Message 494/08, recruiters with grandfathered tattoos may request for follow-on assignments as career recruiters but may not be favorably viewed by Marine Corps Recruiting Command.

“As recruiters, we interact with the public on a day-to-day basis and it is critical for us to be professional in every way,” said Master Sgt. James L. Whitaker, a recruiter with the 12th Marine Corps District.

“Each Marine is a direct representation of the entire Marine Corps, so even the smallest details, like a tattoo, affect our impression on others,” said Whitaker.

The message states recruiters and Marine Security Guards have a significant impact on the public’s perception, as they interact with civilians, at home and abroad, in the performance of their duties.

Questionable tattoos, including racist sexist or vulgar depictions, should be submitted to the deputy commandant for manpower and reserve affairs, along with the re-enlistment, extension or lateral move package.

The package should include a photograph, page 11 entry, measurement in inches, description of the locations and an explanation on why the commander deemed the art inappropriate.

Marines who have grandfathered sleeve tattoos may continue to serve as drill instructors, combat instructors and security force guards, but excessive tattoos may adversely affect retention and assignment for special duty.