Young man can't join Air Force because of tattoo

May 21, 2010 6:27:01 PM PDT
A young Bay Area man who wants to serve his country in the military is being denied that chance, told he cannot join the Air Force because of a tattoo.

Marvin Goodman would be an ideal candidate for any branch of the armed services. He graduated from high school with a 3.2 GPA and volunteers his time teaching. Above all, he wants to serve his country in the military, just like his father.

Marvin Goodman, now 18, got the tattoo on his 17th birthday.

"It's my initials, Marvin Lee Goodman II, then it says 'the second to the greatest,' because I'm the second and my dad's the greatest, so it's a tribute to him basically," Goodman said.

Goodman says the base doctor never said anything about it during his physical.

"He marked it down on the physical saying the description of the tattoo and where it's located and everything; I wasn't told by him or the recruiter or anybody else it was a problem," Goodman said.

Goodman was sworn at the Aviano Air Force base in Italy on Nov. 3, 2009. He enlisted during a visit with his father, who was stationed overseas.

Goodman came back to the Bay Area, where he began volunteering in the theatre classes at his alma mater, Berkeley High School.

He was to leave for basic training in July, but when he reported to the recruiting office in Hayward his problems began.

A sergeant did not like what he saw.

"He saw the tattoo and said, 'I'd like to take a picture of that, just as a safety precaution to make sure it's OK with them,'" Goodman said.

The pictures were sent to the recruiter's superior officer and on Tuesday, Goodman got word that his tattoo was too big.

The Air Force forbids tattoos that exceed 25 percent of an exposed body part. Goodman's tattoo runs from his elbow to his wrist.

The Air Force says it made a mistake. Goodman says that mistake destroyed his future plans.

"I don't know how to fix that, so its way much bigger than a mistake; a mistake is spilling milk on something," he said.

The Air Force responded to ABC7's inquiries with a statement saying, "The Air Force Recruiting Service is currently reviewing the tattoo in question to determine if it meets the current Air Force Tattoo policy standards."

Goodman's case is now going all the way up to headquarters.

Each branch of the services has a different policy on tattoos. An Army recruiter asked ABC7 to tell Goodman he ought to join the Army; they have no problem with his tattoo.


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