If you’ve ever wondered what someone’s tattoos meant but were afraid to ask, two dozen California military veterans are sharing their bodies and their stories online in hopes they can make you less hesitant.
The "War Ink" multimedia project launches today. It’s meant to bridge a gap between veterans and the public.
Jose Cruz, who served four tours with the Marines in Iraq, had his four tattoos photographed extensively for the website. They include a cross with initials of some fallen comrades, the Marine "Semper Fi" motto, his own last name, and a tribal tattoo with an angel and skull.
"Those tattoos keep me grounded as a person and as reminders of where I’ve been, what I’ve done, who I am, and also help in deciding who I’m gonna be,” said Cruz, who was born in Chihuahua, Mexico, but has lived in California since he was 7.
“We don’t get these tattoos just because we want to be flashy, or because we want to be cool. These tattoos actually mean something to us," Cruz said. "It’s a way of expressing those stories, those experiences, sometimes even emotions that are a lot easier when they are portrayed in a picture instead of actually using words.”