Authorization Of Sleeve tattoos in the Marine Corps

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Authorization Of Sleeve tattoos in the Marine Corps

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Marine corps

Why this petition matters

Started by Jasper Piala

Marine Corps Tattoo Policy Modification: 

Political image and the overuse of the word "professionalism" has nothing to do with warfighting efficiency, proficiency, and lethality 


Feel Free to provide any legitimate arguments or points I have not covered in the paper! 


Stellar Marine Refused Eligibility To Re-Enlist Or Advance in His Field Due To Tattoo Regulations


Argumentative Paper




Arguing in Favor of the Authorization of More Permissive Tattoo Regulations
By: Jasper T. Piala

The current tattoo regulations are discriminating against Marines with a desire for “sleeve” tattoos, comes with a damaging stigma, has a negative impact on morale, retention, and it’s absence on equal opportunity.

Alarming numbers of Marines are silenced in their opinion or desire to bear artform covering certain parts of their body, including elbow, knees, forearms, and calves. Commonly the desired tattoos are referred to as “sleeve” tattoos. Due to a high number of Marines raising their concerns, it is in the interest of and of great concern to Headquarters Marine Corps to:(1) inform the force as to why tattoos in these areas are not allowed or heavily restricted, and (2) consider loosening restrictions on tattoos altogether.

Competent and decorated Marines in the past and present who have proven to be an asset for the Marine Corps have been denied reenlistment and advancement in their field due to increasingly restrictive tattoo regulations. This creates an increasingly damaging stigma, within which a Marine who has or desires tattoos outside of the standing regulations is seen as lacking discipline. There exists no correlation, positive or negative, between tattoos and effectiveness, efficiency, discipline, or lethality. With regards to equal opportunity, transgender Marines have the authorization if they do desire to change certain parts of their body- which comes at a cost to the Marine Corps. Whereas, anyone who desires tattoos, pays for them with their own money, at no cost to the Marine Corps, but is restricted as that is not authorized.

Marines want to be different from the rest; we pride ourselves on being a standout, elite warfighting organization in the eyes of the American public and the world at large. As such, we have more restrictive tattoo policies than the other branches so as to retain an image of difference when viewed by those not apart of the Marine Corps. Of note, the Navy and the Army allow the very tattoos forming the subject of this paper and have found no correlation, positive or negative, between tattoos and effectiveness, efficiency, discipline or lethality, all while still upholding their respective service’s highest tradition and professionalism. The Marine Corps of late has been too busy shaping such a political image that we often miss what has earned us such an image. Our forefathers before us bled, sacrificed, and gave, all for this country. These were Marines at a time where society considered tattoos controversial, taboo, or unappealing- something that would not get you hired in the civilian sector.

Society has changed; tattoos are now more acceptable in the workplace than ever and so are the Marines that have come along and taken on the torch. What has not changed is the individual Marine’s ethos: efficient, effective, prideful, innovative, and still ready to take down the nation's enemies whenever and wherever needed, regardless of how many tattoos they have and where they have tattoos on their body. The current tattoo regulations are too restrictive and are, without convincing or apparent logic, out of step with modern societal norms.

Across the Marine Corps, there is a problem with retention, morale, and equal opportunity. Allow Marines a sense of outward expression and individual pride through the modifying of tattoo regulations. Incentivize reenlistment by allowing Marines to express themselves in a manner that is of no cost to the Marine Corps with policies that mimic the sister branches. This does not lower our standards, decrease our lethality, or align ourselves with the other services. We align or separate ourselves through the actions of each individual Marine; the way we conduct ourselves on a day to day basis is what separates Marines from the rest.

Another subject of note is the discrimination of Marines who desire such tattoos. A world of equal opportunity in the Marine Corps cannot exist if transgenders have the ability to pick and choose what they desire on/off their bodies, while personnel who desire tattoos in certain areas of their bodies do not have this ability.

Of note, it is also important to state that the Marine Corps in every war has loosened policy during times of war in order to increase number of volunteers. These  volunteers range from having sleeve tattoos to unlawful citizens given a second chance by a judge to join the Marine Corps. This makes it seems some policies set in place are truly non-essential and has no correlation to combat effectiveness, and when it comes down to it the professional Marine higher Marine Corps wants you to see in posters or commercials are just that. An advertisement in concern of public image. In reality Marines are some of the most dirty minded, foul mouthed, warrior driven individuals America has. 

Modify the standing tattoo restrictions or modernize the explanation for why the current restrictions are in place.

If Authorized; Modify Marine Corps Bulletin 1020 authorizing tattoos anywhere on the body except the hands and above the collar bone.

-Restricted Areas: 2 inches from wrist to fingers (exception for 1 ring tattoo on 1 finger); from above the collar bone to the top of the head which include neck, face, lips, tongue, and scalp.
-Extremist or obscene tattoos shall remain restricted. (Aforementioned above shall be restricted of tattoos/markings/brands)


The point of contact regarding this matter is Jasper T. Piala at



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