Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Help Me Howard: Tattoo
Want to join the military? Wan to fight for your country?Great, but before you go, one South Florida man found out, you better roll up your sleeve and make sure you don't have a big tattoo of God on your arm because the military will say, "Go away." Can the U.S. military ban a recruit for having a tattoo? It's why one man called Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
WSVN -- Whether it's the Marines, the Army, the Navy or the Air Force, the military is the place many people want to be.
Arthur Scott: "The Air Force alone is just interesting to me. I mean, the airplanes, the traveling, the technical school."
Arthur has wanted to join the Air Force since he was in high school, and so he went out and signed up.
Arthur Scott: "I ran around Miami. I did my tests, I got my waivers, I got recommendations, I filled out the application."
He did well on his tests. He was ready to go until his phone rang.
Arthur Scott: "I received a bad phone call telling me, 'Oh, Arthur, we cannot accept you because your tattoos cover too much area.'"
The tattoos on his right arm.
Arthur Scott: "Just a cross that has thorns on it. It's just a cross, and then I have a Jesus on the side."
Above the tattoo of Jesus are the words, 'Lord, forgive me.' Arthur thought it would be a great thing to have if he ever was in battle.
Arthur Scott: "So, if I were in the Air Force and something were going bad, I could look at it and hold it and tell God to look over me."
But the people in the Air Force who looked over his arm told Arthur his tattoo was too big.
Arthur Scott: "You are denied entrance to the Air Force, it is like heart-dropping."
Heart-dropping and a little confusing since Arthur has friends in the military, and they have tattoos.
Arthur Scott: "I know for a fact, I have some friends in the Air Force that have tattoos, such as skulls or money signs, an area code 305, 'Made in Dade.'"
Arthur says if his tattoo was gang-related or had cuss words, he could understand, but a picture of Jesus...
Arthur Scott: "And I didn't know that trusting in God would deny me from getting into the Air Force. I mean, when we salute, it is in God We Trust, right?"
Right about that, and Arthur truly wants to join the Air Force, so he argued his case in a letter to everyone he could think of.
Arthur Scott: "I sent it to the White House. I sent it to the general in charge of the Air Force, the General of Defense."
So far, no one has responded, and so he has a question, can the Air Force block him from signing up because of a religious tattoo on his arm, Mr. Finkelstein?
Howard Finkelstein: "The U.S military is different than any other employer, private or public in this country. They can set whatever rules they want in order to field the best military possible. The only thing they cannot do is discriminate, and rejecting someone because of a tattoo is not discrimination."
According to the Air Force policy, excessive tattoos cannot be visible while in uniform. Excessive is described as anything above the collarbone and exceeding 25 percent of the exposed body part, such as the arm. When we contacted the other branches of the military, we found no one allows obscene tattoos. The Marines policy on size is almost identical to the Air Force. The Navy does not allow large tattoos but does allow recruits to get a waiver. The army does not have a size restriction on tattoos at all. If Arthur doesn't want to join another branch of the military, there is an option.
Howard Finkelstein: "If you are determined to join the Air Force, get the tattoo removed, but before you do that, make sure they will accept you after you remove the tattoo."
Arthur isn't sure what he will do, but he is sure what he should have done.
Arthur Scott: "In 12th grade, if I knew that getting tattoos or a cross or a Jesus would deny me, I wouldn't have gotten them."
Or get it in a spot where no one can see it. Now Arthur has written those letters of appeal, but odds are the military is not going to budge. His backup plan, he wants to get into law enforcement.
Feel like troubles have tattooed you? Need to remove it? Don't be denied, enlist our help. We'll recruit the best legal minds all right, we'll give it to Howard.
FOR MORE INFORMATION: