Over 2.5 million U.S. women and men are veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Some 7,000 Americans have lost their lives in these wars. Those who survive often move through society unidentified, coping with the mental and emotional challenges of post-combat civilian life in silence. That's why U.S. Army veteran Jason Deitch and community library manager Chris Brown partnered to create War Ink, "a virtual exhibit that combines original video, photography, and audio interviews to present the stories of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans in their own words."
The tattoos of the veterans who have participated in the project serve as the "entry point" to their stories. Their "war ink" visually expresses the marks left by the combat experience and the ongoing struggle to rejoin civilian life. "Stark, beautiful, disturbing, and often darkly humorous," the website reads, "these tattoos are visual expression of memories and emotions that can be difficult to discuss openly." Click through to view 10 of the project's striking portraits. Then, navigate to War Ink to experience the project in its multimedia entirety.