Waukee veteran, tattoo artist raising awareness for PTSD

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Katelyn Sprott

The bright red ‘veteran owned business’ sticker, a prominent feature on the door. Sun light filters in through the design “Warrior Tattoo Studio” on the windows. A red, white and blue heart, with a lone star draws the attention to a wall of past accomplishments, filled with pictures of war and framed awards. The soft buzz of a tattoo gun mixes with the casual chatter between customer and artist, while an eclectic mix of music bounces off the walls. That buzz intensifies as the artist starts on his latest creation as the tattoo gun drags across the skin, similar to a cat scratch.

To those local to the Waukee area the word warrior might simply mean the mascot for Waukee High School. For John Hintz, owner and artist at Warrior Tattoo Studio (WTS) in Waukee, Iowa, it means so much more.

Three time Purple Heart recipient and retired Army Maj. John Hintz, joined the Army in 1993, where he served in the infantry for six years enlisted and 14 years as an officer. He was deployed several times to include Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF), Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF), Saudi Arabia and Panama. In 2010 Hintz was featured in a 60 Minutes piece called “Relentless Enemy” while he was stationed with the 101st Airborne Division at Combat Outpost Zerok, Afghanistan.
With his past always a part of him, Hintz opened WTS to honor all soldiers, especially those he served with and lost in combat and at home.

“I’ve lost a lot of soldiers in combat, but I’ve lost almost more than that to suicide,” said Hintz. Hintz said it’s important to raise awareness for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) because he’s seen what they go through first hand overseas.

“I don’t think people realize just how intense conflict is,” said Hintz. “And a lot of people see things they’ve never seen before and they’re pretty challenging to deal with.”

Hintz said those with PTSD could deal with mental instability and may lose their bearing. He said it’s important on many levels to make sure we understand what they’re going through. Hintz said it’s also about the spouses and loved ones of the service member and how they can be affected.

“You just never know where a guy’s at in his head,” said Hintz.

Hintz was recently contacted by Anna Bergman, of the Waukee City Council, about helping out with the Waukee Veteran’s Memorial Project (WVMP). Bergman said she was overwhelmed with the support Hintz provided.

Hintz said he proposed the idea of drawing up a tattoo and having a couple days where the proceeds from that specific tattoo would go towards the WVMP. Bergman said Hintz and WTS’s contribution of $3,000 was above and beyond what anyone was anticipating.

Hintz went with the ;IGY6 tattoo. The IGY6 Foundation stands for “I got your six,” meaning, “I’ve got your back.” The foundation promotes awareness of PTSD and suicide in veterans, active duty, national guardsmen, reservists, first responders and family members dealing with PTSD. Each piece of the tattoo has a different meaning, which can be found on the foundation’s website.

Bergman agreed with Hintz that the tattoo design was great and that the movement behind it is much needed and powerful.

Hintz said the meaning behind this tattoo is truly about letting people know that just because they have come home, the battle is not over.

“There’s always people that are here for you, if there’s an issue, please turn to them,” said Hintz.

Read more about CBS’s 60 minute piece here: http://www.cbsnews.com/news/fighters-on-afghan-border-a-relentless-enemy/
Or watch the video on CBS News’s YouTube channel:

For more information about each piece of the ;IGY6 tattoo, visit the IGY6 Foundation’s website here: http://igy6foundation.com/