Beards in the Military: A Petition to Let You Grow | stubble & 'stache

by Nicholas Karnaze September 15, 2016 5 Comments

Joe | stubble & 'stache beard care products

A recent petition on change.org asks the U.S. military to allow its members to grow beards, and it’s  gaining steam. Military history buffs know that our military has had an on-again, off-again love affair with facial hair.

Gen Ulysses S. Grant with Beard

The invention of chemical weapons ended the affair for good. Beards were prohibited across all branches for two reasons: Hygiene and the need for a good seal while wearing a gas mask.

Marines in MOPP

Current regulations do allow facial hair for those authorized for “relaxed grooming standards” and for those with religious waivers. Those men normally granted relaxed grooming standards fall into three main categories:

  1. Special Operations personnel
  2. Intelligence personnel
  3. Medical requirement

All of these categories have a time limit. For the first two, relaxed grooming standards are normally authorized while the service member is deployed to an area where facial hair is a cultural norm. As for number three, that relates to a service member having a medical condition that prevents them from shaving daily. Once the condition is resolved, the service member must once again shave.  

So why the petition? One word: morale. In the words of the petition’s author Ed Beebe:

All I want is to be able to grow a beard.  I want to grow long locks of love on my face that will make me feel like a manly man.  It is not something out of this world to ask. Grooming standards will still be in effect, but I just want facial hair that I can run my fingers through.  This is free of cost to the government and can have morale boosting potential for military members.

Supporters tend to agree.


“Give me beard or give me death” -Nathan D.


I have been military for over 6 years, I have always been in favor of this idea. I can't even grow facial hair well and I still find it crazy that we put so much emphasis on shaving yet the military will fork out money for cosmetic surgeries. Let the men of the military be men.  -Jon C.

How does Ed address the main reasons for prohibiting facial hair? First, strict grooming standards for facial hair. Keep it clean and neat (we can help). Second, require beards are shaved in combat zones where chemical warfare is a threat. Simple.

WWII haircut in Okinawa

As a combat vet myself, I totally agree with the petition. My Marine’s combat beard was the inspiration for this company. I say #LetItGrow and #FreeTheNipple...oh wait, wrong petition…

Semper,

Nick

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Nicholas Karnaze
Nicholas Karnaze

Author

Warfighter turned entrepreneur. Founder, stubble & 'stache. Grooming expert. Skincare nerd. Marine Corps combat veteran.



5 Responses

WelderArc
WelderArc

December 02, 2016

I am a welder looking to join the Air Force, I am too old and possibly tall to become a Pilot, so my function would be support such as maintenance. I tend to agree that shaving is a function of discipline and cleanliness, however our society is changing and our Military must adapt to overcome.

During some welds where there are serious environmental hazards, I use a cowl given to me by a buddy working for a Navy Shipyard, and my respirator will seal to the cloth!

I would not have an issue shaving, if not for my sensitive skin. I went three years with a clean face and could never successfully shave without more than tolerable nicks and cuts. Growing a beard just became a necessity of proper grooming, and it ‘grew on me.’ Beards are totally in fashion as well, and increase self-esteem. Confidence is given to our soldiers as they prove to themselves their worthiness, and self-worth is difficult to conquer if you are not comfortable in your own skin.

Brad Harrell
Brad Harrell

November 14, 2016

Also as a Christian male it is viewed as a sign of humility to shave you beard. Research it and you will see that throughout the bible. If Muslim men in the army can have them for religious reasons why can’t other religions.

Larry Taub
Larry Taub

November 11, 2016

I was in the submarine force back in the 70s and 80s. Almost everyone underwater grew beards. During Zumwalt’s reign beards were allowed. I sported a rather long beard until I made E7 and then only a mustache was allowed. For EABs and gas mask try vaseline!

Christopher Andrews
Christopher Andrews

September 15, 2016

Logic is sound. Free the beard!

Sez1
Sez1

September 15, 2016

Excellent article!! In light of today’s issues in the military; allowing facial hair for “morale boosting” might be a good thing.

When reading – my first thought was the “pro mask and the seal”….however, shaving immediately solves the problems. I still kind of like the notion that only “special” individuals can sport the facial hair….not everyone can rock the MOS (kind of like the green and black beret….before Shinseki changed it to tan….)

Not too long ago, the Army had to consider relaxing hair standards….I suppose this just falls in line.

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