To explore the characteristics of military service tattoos a descriptive study was conducted at Walter Reed Army Medical Center to collect information from a convenience sample. An investigator-developed questionnaire provided the data for this study. Over the ensuing 12 month-period the researchers collected 126 questionnaires. Typical respondents were enlisted men with at least one deployment to an area of combat operations. Among the respondents, 57% acquired their tattoos before their deployment. One-quarter of the respondents reported only one tattoo, leaving the majority with multiple tattoos. Men received their first tattoo at an earlier age than women. The most common tattoo listed a person's name. Respondents did not regret their tattoos and rarely acquired the body art under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Little evidence was found to support a connection between tattoos and deployment. Few regretted their decisions and most all approached the tattoo experience free of any mind-altering substance. All this seems to suggest that military tattoos are a well-accepted means of self-expression.
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