Tricare or MTF: Will The Army Pay For Tattoo Removal?
Question: I have a total of 5 tattoos that fall below my right elbow. My Commander determined that my tattoos are not in compliance with AR 670-1, 3-3c(2). I’ve been counseled, and I understand that I’ve been grandfathered (which I’m extremely grateful for).
Prior to the release of the new policy, I was preparing to apply to Office Candidate School. Now I find out that I’m no longer able to qualified for a commission…
According to AR 670-1, 3-3h:
Commanders will ensure that Soldiers understand the tattoo policy and comply with the requirement to document their tattoos. If a Soldier has any tattoo or brand that is prohibited under paragraph 3–3b, has any tattoo or brand that is not grandfathered because it was not previously authorized such as a tattoo or brand on the face or head, or acquires any new tattoo or brand in violation of paragraph 3–3c(1) through (2), his/her Commander will:
(1) Counsel the Soldier in writing. The DA Form 4856 (Developmental Counseling Form) will state that the Soldier is not in compliance with AR 670–1, paragraph 3–3, and will explain how the tattoo or brand violates the specific prohibition in the policy (for example, the tattoo is extremist because it is a known symbol for a specific hate group; or the new tattoo is in a prohibited location).
(2) Provide the Soldier with no less than a period of 15 calendar days to seek medical and/or legal advice, fully consider all available options, and respond to the counseling, in writing, by informing the commander that he/she will appeal the finding that the tattoo or brand is in violation of policy, pursue medical procedure(s) to have the tattoo or brand removed, or not have the tattoo or brand removed.
(a) If the Soldier elects to appeal the finding that the tattoo or brand is in violation of policy, the Commander will forward the matter to the first O–6 commander in the chain of command for a final determination.
(b) If the Soldier elects to have the tattoo or brand removed, the Commander will counsel the Soldier on a plan for scheduling the medical procedure(s). Soldiers will receive a reasonable amount of time to schedule the necessary medical procedure(s) and pay for such procedure(s) (if not available at a military treatment facility). Commanders must also determine if operational requirements will delay the medical procedure(s).
(c) If the Soldier declines to have the tattoo or brand removed, the Commander will counsel the Soldier in writing. The DA Form 4856 will state that the Soldier’s refusal to remove extremist, indecent, sexist, or racist tattoos or brands anywhere on the body, or refusal to remove any unauthorized tattoo or brand that was not grandfathered in accordance with 3–3c(3) constitutes a violation of a lawful order and will result in adverse action. The Commander will then initiate administrative separation proceedings.
(d) Company-level commanders will make determinations for current Active and Reserve Component Soldiers. This authority will not be delegated further. If a tattoo or brand is discovered to violate this policy after a Soldier self identified his or her tattoos or brands (in accordance with paragraph 3–3e) or the Soldier wishes to appeal the determination, the commander must submit the Soldier’s request to the first O–6 commander in the chain of command for decision.
Tattoo Removal At Military Treatment Facilities?
Soldiers will receive a reasonable amount of time to schedule the necessary medical procedure(s) and pay for such procedure(s) (if not available at a military treatment facility).
After reading this I’m lead to believe that I can have one of my tattoos removed at the MTF. By chance do you get the same impression?
My conclusion is also supported by, OTSG/MEDCOM Policy Memo 12-076 (Expires November 2014). Revised Policy for Cosmetic Surgery Procedures and Tattoo/Brand Removal in the Military Health System.
Tattoo Removal Through Tricare
On the flip side this specific subject has been brought up in the Fort Gordon Issue Book (updated January 2014).
Scope: The Army allowed Soldiers to enter into the service with various visible (neck, hands, feet) tattoos at one point. The leadership is now reversing this policy and while those with visible tattoos are allowed to be “grandfathered” in, these Soldiers still face much discrimination and judgment when it comes to promotion boards and various other military activities, to include not being able to wear their Class A skirt, or being told to wear flats in Class A’s rather than heels. On SMA Chandler’s Facebook Page many Soldiers’ described Soldier’s with tattoos as “Thugs” or “Members of a Biker Gang”. This has a direct impact on Soldiers careers as many leaders still consider tattoos something negative. Tricare will not pay for the tattoo removal procedure, as it is considered a cosmetic surgery.
So will the Army pay for tattoo removal? I’m at a loss, and desperately seeking the correct answer…