"After serving his country bravely for six years with an otherwise top notch record, Sgt Knapp's lifelong dream of being a career Marine will be ended if this policy is not changed," the petition states. "...Why should we allow policies to exist that are not in keeping with new cultural norms and let dedicated service men and women accept yet another unfair burden?"
"When I was in Afghanistan," Knapp told Marine Corps Times, "my tattoos never stopped me from shooting anyone, and they never made me more of a target. They never stopped me from keeping Marines safe. On patrol nothing ever happened because of my tattoos."
With the help of a career planner, Knapp applied for a waiver to re-enlist. Most of his command endorsed it, but it was denied by Headquarters Marine Corps, which has the final say on all re-enlistments.
"The waiver process is meant for people like me who have something minor on their record," Knapp said. "It doesn't say anything about my character or the type of Marine I am."
Sgt. Daniel Knapp exits a helicopter at Camp Bastion, Afghanistan, after conducting a raid in Now Zad on Aug. 31, 2013. Knapp is being denied reenlistment for his tattoos.
Photo Credit: Sgt. Gabriela Garcia/Marine Corps
"He has risked his life for our freedom and wants to do it again! What more of a reason could you ask for?" wrote Warren Shaw from Greenville, Pennsylvania, on the petition's page.
Susan Miller of Rock Creek, Ohio, wrote, "Tattoos have absolutely nothing to do with his ability to serve our country! What is wrong with this picture? I'm truly amazed at what our government and military is actually focusing on here, don't we have much bigger problems than how many tats a person has?"
Jody Geloran of Middleborough, Massachusetts wrote, "Can he still do his job, can he still pull the trigger when he has to? What does it matter how many tattoos he has?"
Some say that whether tattoos detract from appearance or combat efficacy is actually inconsequential. What is most significant is that Knapp violated a standing regulation and is now paying the price for it.
The petition is about 385 signatures short of its goal of 1,500.