RYAN "The Illustrated Man"
The Illustrated Man features Ryan Le Va whose personality is as colorful as the tattoos that adorn his body. Deployed in 2003, Le Va served in Iraq for 14 months as a member of the Military Police with the Army National Guard. His left sleeve shows a fuel pump and a piston engine representing his brother and sister whose support kept him going.
Le Va’s own symbols, a spider caught in a web and a broken robot, counters his own sense of humor. “Most of us are really funny guys,” says Le Va, “and ridiculously good-looking.”
Victoria "Life on Pause"
Life on Pause features Navy Corpsman Victoria Lord who endured a difficult childhood but found a home in the military. Deployed on a hospital ship during the Iraq War, Lord was profoundly moved and inspired by the strength and sacrifices of her fellow Sailors.
One of Lord’s favorite tattoos is Hello Kitty wearing Navy Dress Blues. “She kinda represents me,” explains Lord, ”I put her in Blues for the Navy because they taught me so much about family.”'
NOAH "My Chuck Taylors are in Heaven"
My Chuck Taylors Are in Heaven features Noah Bailey, a member of a U.S. Army Scout / Sniper platoon who overcame tremendous obstacles physically and emotionally after losing both legs in a combined IED and ambush attack in Afghanistan.
A tattoo over his heart depicts a burning Humvee, above it are his feet in Chuck Taylor sneakers flying to heaven, where they wait for him.
“Every day is hard,” explains Noah Bailey. “but I’m not dead. I’m a glass half-full kind of guy.”
WILLIAM "This is for Pape"
This is For Pape features Army medic William Glazier, a veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan, sharing a story about his squad leader Staff Sergeant Kevin Pape who looked out for him on his first day in combat.
On the inside of his right arm Glazier’s single tattoo simply reads “Rangers,” done in a later World War II symbol used by the elite military group.
“Opening communication between veterans and civilians is an important thing to do,“ Glazier shares, “but that communication is hard.”
HEATHER "Suicide Butterflies"
In Suicide Butterflies, Heather Hayes, an Air Force mechanic and a veteran of both Iraq and Afghanistan, shares her passion about her military service and her tattoos. One of her more dramatic tattoos is based on a Banksy graffiti piece showing a woman shooting herself and the blood transforming into butterflies.
“It’s kind of intense, I suppose. Basically it’s a symbol of something really tragic turning into something really beautiful,” says Heather Hayes.