DEAR ABBY: This is in response to "Worried Mom in Gainesville, Fla." (July 13), whose son was not allowed to re-enlist in the Marine Corps.
I hate to say this, but that young man knew darned well when he got those tattoos he would not be able to re-enlist. The U.S. Navy (which the Marine Corps "technically" falls under) passed the New Enlistment Tattoo Policy in January 2003, with the Marine Corps adding its policy in April 2007. -- SPOUSE OF RETIRED NAVY CPO
DEAR SPOUSE: You are correct. Many readers wrote to say the Navy had passed new tattoo policies in 2003 and the Marine Corps followed suit in 2007. If re-enlisting is so important to "Worried Mom's" son, all he needs to do is have his "tatts" removed. Read on:
DEAR ABBY: The issue isn't time served or his honorable discharge. The Marine Times recently published an article on Marine policy regarding tattoos. The Corps seeks to discourage full-sleeve tattoos and tattoos above the neck. They are regarded as unprofessional in appearance and may incorporate gang-related symbols. "Worried Mom's" son likely knew the guidelines.
The mother said her son is bored and lacks focus in college. This suggests he may have PTSD. His desire to enlist in the French Foreign Legion may have short-term gains, but it may also compound mental health problems. -- MARC IN SOUTH ORANGE, N.J.
DEAR ABBY: The nonsense about joining the French Foreign Legion shows that the young man lacks maturity. He chose to get the tattoos; he can either have laser removal or live with his decision. He wants to be a Marine and is crying about a regulation he does not like? That is definitely not Marine quality! It appears he needs a serious dose of maturity. -- CHRIS IN INDEPENDENCE, MO.
DEAR ABBY: The French Foreign Legion is a rational choice for this bored veteran of two tours in Iraq. After three five-year enlistments, he will be eligible to retire. Plus, the legion will prepare him for a civilian occupation.
He will be able to live in France after only one enlistment, which gives him the benefits of the French medical system. Many employers in Europe prefer to hire ex-legionnaires. The legion also has a history of teaching its recruits how to speak enough French to get along.
How do I know this? My brother joined the FFL at age 35. Wish I had, too. -- CHARLES IN FORT WORTH, TEXAS
DEAR ABBY: Currently, the Australian forces are expanding and are unable to fill their ranks with their own citizens, so they are recruiting members from other nations. The mission of the Australian military is similar to the U.S. military. As a member of the Australian forces, he would be defending the same ideals as the U.S. military. I retired from the U.S. Navy last year and seriously considered doing this, too. -- RETIRED NAVY, REDMOND, ORE.
DEAR ABBY: This young man, like our son, is clearly experiencing the effects of PTSD. The impact of this disorder on our servicemen affects their ability to readjust to civilian life and move forward with positive life planning. The signs of PTSD can be subtle, but they are very real. The man in that letter needs professional help. His injuries, while not physically obvious, require attention. -- CONCERNED PARENTS
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