Tuesday, December 23, 2014

War Ink Veterans Stories of War and Finding Peace

War Ink: Stories of war veterans “coming all the way home”
Richmond Confidential
Bonnie Chan
December 22, 2014
Jason Deitch has a tattoo on the underside of his forearm that reads, in three parts, “First I served. Then I healed. Now I serve that cause.”

Deitch is an Army veteran, military sociologist and veteran advocate whose tattoo encapsulates his life’s mission to help war veterans readjust to civilian life and “come all the way home.” Last year, along with Contra Costa County Library senior manager Chris Brown, Deitch embarked on a journey that would become his greatest piece of advocacy for veterans yet: a project called War Ink.

War Ink, which launched on Veterans Day, is an online multimedia exhibit that seeks to offer an authentic documentation of veterans’ experiences coming home from war. Using video, still photography, audio and text, the exhibit features Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans from across California – each with their own personal story, spelled out in ink on skin.

“Warfighter culture has become a very different thing than civilian culture, and a lot of the aspects of warfighter culture are antithetical to civilian culture,” Deitch said.

Deitch said a tenet and survival mechanism of military culture is a wariness of expressing pain and emotion – hence the nonverbal expression through body art common among war vets.

Army veteran Noah Bailey, who lost both legs below the knee during an IED attack in Afghanistan in 2005, has a tattoo on his chest of his Chuck Taylor shoes flying up to heaven.
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