DEAR ABBY: Ex-Marine wants to re-enlist where tattoos are welcome

Posted: July 13, 2012

DEAR ABBY: My son is 24 and was honorably discharged as a corporal after a four-year enlistment in the U.S. Marine Corps. He was deployed twice to Iraq.

Since his return he has been attending community college, but he lacks the focus and is bored. He has recently announced that he would like to return to the military.

When he approached the Marine recruiter to re-enlist, he was told he's ineligible due to tattoos on his arms. After four years of honorable and devoted service, this rejection is insulting. He has announced to family that he will pursue enlistment in the French Foreign Legion next year.

This is very distressing to me, and I'm sick with worry about his well-being. I do not want him to go off to fight in a foreign military. Can you offer any words of wisdom?

— Worried Mom in Gainesville, Fla.

DEAR WORRIED MOM: Encourage your son to explore enlistment opportunities with other branches of the U.S. military regarding their tattoo policies.

However, while you and I might consider his desire to join the French Foreign Legion to be an extreme overreaction to his rejection by the Marines, as an adult he has a right to make that choice. If he goes through with his plan, he may see less action than he would as a member of the U.S. military.

While I can't make this easier for you as a parent, I do have this advice to offer. Tell your son it would be in his best interest to learn some basic French before he goes.

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