A sergeant’s career is at risk because his tattoos are currently in violation of the Marine Corps tattoo policy. A petition created to loosen that policy has already garnished over 1,000 signatures.
Sgt. Daniel Knapp, an infantry rifleman assigned to 2nd Battalion, 8th Marines, was denied re-enlistment because the forearm tattoo he got in honor of his first combat deployment in 2011 violated Marine Corps regulations. Even though there is a policy waiver endorsed by leaders with his parent command, Knapp is still set to leave the Corps in June.
“After serving his country bravely for six years with an otherwise top notch record, Sgt Knapp’s lifelong dream of being a career Marine will be ended if this policy is not changed,” the petition reads. “…Why should we allow policies to exist that are not in keeping with new cultural norms and let dedicated service men and women accept yet another unfair burden?”
During his time with the Marines, Knapp has been deployed to Afghanistan twice, won a valor award for leading his team to suppress enemy fire during a battle in Marjah, been meritoriously promoted twice, and has first-class Physical and Combat Fitness Test Scores.
Knapp is well aware he has violated the regulations of what he calls a “complicated policy” and wants to share his story to warn others of what may be. He and his supporters argue that tattoos do not effect a Marine’s combat abilities and the policy should be loosened.
“When I was in Afghanistan,” Knapp said in an interview with Marine Corps Times, “my tattoos never stopped me from shooting anyone, and they never made me more of a target. They never stopped me from keeping Marines safe. On patrol nothing ever happened because of my tattoos.”
Knapp applied for a waiver to re-enlist, which was endorsed by most of his camp, but denied by Headquarters Marine Corps, who has the final say.
“The waiver process is meant for people like me who have something minor on their record,” Knapp said. “It doesn’t say anything about my character or the type of Marine I am.
The petition reached its early goal of 1,500 and now has more than 2,500 signatures.