Veterans, Tattoos, and the Stories They Tell

Steve Major, Iraq war veteran, Misty Chastain, tattoo artist

Steve Major, an Iraq war veteran, art done by Misty Chastain.

While historians cannot pinpoint when tattooing began or why it has held fast over time, one reason tattooing persists is to signify a warrior. Members of the American military are warriors protecting our freedoms and liberties. For some, the tradition of tattooing is an important part in American military service experience.

Tattooing, as a trend, began with the military which is thought to have introduced the art to the United States in the early 1900s.  Members of the military and veterans across generations and wars have used tattoos as a form of self-expression and a mark of respect for the fallen.

For some Veterans, tattoos are powerful visuals that tell a story.  Much of the body art reveals honor of service and sacred remembrance. Their tattoos are personal narratives that capture attention, arouse curiosity and broaden understanding of a world that few civilians have knowledge of and many fail to understand.

Few people understand what service members go through, but the shared medium of tattoos can provide an opportunity for a genuine dialog and exchange of questions, ideas and, beliefs.

Learn more about some Veterans, their stories, and what their tattoos mean for them at Veteran Ink.