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Army: Soldier grandfathered in under tattoo policy

Jul. 14, 2014 - 05:43PM   |  
Staff Sgt. Adam Thorogood, a Guardsman who served 10 years on active duty, displays the tattoo on his left forearm. He has a total of 11 tattoos, most honoring his service.
Staff Sgt. Adam Thorogood, a Guardsman who served 10 years on active duty, displays the tattoo on his left forearm. He has a total of 11 tattoos, most honoring his service. (Photos courtesy Staff Sgt. Adam Thorogood)
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Thorogood has spoken out for the first time since he filed a $100 million lawsuit against the Army's tattoo reg. He had hopes of becoming a warrant officer, but his tattoos run afoul of the new rules. (Photos courtesy Staff Sgt. Adam Thorogood)

LOUISVILLE, KY. — The U.S. Army says a Kentucky National Guard soldier with aspirations of joining a U.S. Army special operations unit is grandfathered in under new regulations concerning soldiers with tattoos and asked a federal judge to dismiss his lawsuit.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Regina S. Edwards says in a motion that Staff Sgt. Adam C. Thorogood of Nashville, Tennessee, has no legal basis for suing the Army because he hasn’t been and shouldn’t be harmed by the policy.

Thorogood, 28, sued Thursday in U.S. District Court in Paducah, Kentucky, seeking to have the new rules declared unconstitutional. He is seeking $100 million in damages.

The regulations went into effect in March and ban tattoos below the knee or elbow. Soldiers who already have the ink are grandfathered in. Under the new regulations, any soldier with tattoos is barred from seeking a promotion to warrant officer or commissioning as an officer.

Tattoos have long been a part of military culture, but as they have become more popular, and more prominently displayed on the body, the various branches have been regulating them in to try to maintain a professional look.

Thorogood, who has 11 tattoos, including three on his left arm, spent 10 years on active duty in the Army as a decorated soldier and sniper before switching to the reserves, a move that allowed him to pursue a degree in aerospace at Middle Tennessee State University and pursue certifications in flying planes with the intention of eventually going back on active duty and seeking promotion to warrant officer.

Edwards noted that Thorogood did not apply for a warrant officer position.

“Instead, he failed to apply based on initial inquiries from his recruiter and his own assessment, rather than the regulation,” Edwards wrote.

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