Air Force relaxes tattoo, medical policies for recruits
SAN ANTONIO — The Air Force made significant revisions to its tattoo and medical exemption policy for new recruits, aligning its rules closer to other branches of service, the Air Force said Tuesday.
“We are opening the aperture on certain medical accession criteria and tattoos while taking into account our needs for worldwide deployability and our commitment to the profession of arms,” Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James said in a statement.
One of the most significant changes is the elimination of the so called “25 percent rule,” which barred recruits from tattoos covering more than one-quarter of their extremities, such as arms, legs and backs, said 1st Lt. Erin Ranaweera, a spokeswoman for Air Force recruiting.
The elimination of the rule will now allow for “sleeve” tattoos, which cover significant portions of arms and legs and are popular among young people the Air Force looks to target for recruitment.
Air Force officials hope the change will slow hemorrhaging of recruits to other services who sought more relaxed tattoo policies. The Army and Navy allow sleeve ink, though the Marines still have restrictive policies on the size of tattoos, Stars and Stripes reported in June.
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