Soldiers rushing to get inked before tattoo restrictions begin

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LAKEWOOD, Wash. - It's a tradition spanning the history of warfare-- soldiers marking their bodies to honor fallen comrades.

But time is ticking before tattoo restrictions kick in, and soldiers are racing to get inked.

The owner of Lakewood’s Brass Monkey is now considering moving so he'll be less dependent on members of the military for his business.

Joint Base Lewis-McChord soldiers have gotten hit with a 30-day notice on body art restrictions. The deadline is different for each unit. Some deadlines have already passed.

According to an Army article, each visible tattoo below the elbow or knee must be smaller than the size of the wearer's extended hand. But that’s only one restriction.

The new restrictions aren't sitting well with soldiers who have tattoos of loved ones and fallen comrades.

“Got a cross on top of my arm for my grandfather and then we have a gravesite for my lieutenant who was (killed in action) in Afghanistan when we were deployed,” said Specialist Jordan Sprague.

Once the deadlines pass, soldiers will then be photographed to show which tattoos they currently have.

The list of rules follows:

  • Tattoos on the head, face, neck, hands, fingers and wrists are forbidden.
  • Allow no more than four hand-size tattoos below the elbow and knee.
  • Prohibit sleeve tattoos that cover a person’s entire arm.
  • Ban sexist, racist, indecent or extremist tattoos.
  • Bar enlisted soldiers from requesting commissions as officers if they have tattoos that violate the new policies.
  • Require commanders to document any tattoos that violate the new rules among current soldiers.
  • Order commanders to check their soldiers for new tattoos every year.