Healing Ink, an Israeli organization that tattoos survivors of war and terrorism as a way to encourage healing, visited Virginia Beach in December 2019. The organization traveled here to offer tattoos to those injured during the Virginia Beach Municipal Center shootings. 29 survivors, family and first responders participated in the event.
- I think it's a really beautiful thing
to watch these people truly getting some healing.
The true definition of what church is, this is it.
You know, it's a community coming together to heal.
I tattooed a man named David yesterday,
he's actually the police officer
that's in charge of the Active Shooter Courses.
And I tattooed a portrait of David and Goliath battling.
And I asked him, I said, you know
"Why would you get David and Goliath?
He said, "Well, I've had so many Goliath's
in my life and I've beaten all my Goliath's
and I just want to keep beating more."
And it's just brought me to tears, man, you know?
And it, it just reminds you that we're human.
- I'm the active threat citizens defense coordinator
for Virginia Beach.
I designed the program.
I trained over,
done over 350 workshops.
Some of those people in that building,
unfortunately the building was right behind my office.
So it's a constant reminder of
both my success and my failure.
And that's my mission now
I was going to retire,
but I'm not finished yet.
I never had a tattoo in my life.
And I never even thought about getting one.
But then my son told me that he's doing it.
So I figured, hey,
what a better way to bond with my son
and do something together
than to do something that affected both of us that day
and get tattoos together.
- Growing up, seeing him leave to go to work
and come home
and knowing he's just out there helping people
always inspired me to be a police officer.
I was supposed to be off duty, yes.
I was actually hanging up the police car keys
so I could go home.
And then one of my partners ran up to me.
It was like, "You hear this call going on?"
When we got there and it was still an active incident.
So we geared up and we ran into the building.
It comes back to me every now and then
but I find, honestly, just talking about it
helps out but I think this tattoo is a good reminder
of what can help me.
I got my personal badge on me as well
as half of the Spartan Helmet.
The badge itself.
I'm so proud to be a police officer here in stead
of Virginia Beach.
And then I put the verse, John 15:13 underneath it.
Then basically it says "There no greater love
that someone lays down the light from her friends."
- I'm so proud of my son.
So, you know, anything that
I can do it to be with him together.
I'm going to do it.
And so when he tells me about it
he said he was going to do it.
I was like, well, I'll do it too.
- So Artists 4 Israel's Healing Ink project
brings the world's most talented tattoo artists to Israel
to cover the scars of terror survivors
and Israel's soldiers injured in combat.
We saw what an amazing impact it had
and we decided to bring it to the States as well.
So each year we do a different American city
that was affected by some sort of tragedy.
- Just after the shooting
as the community was starting to plan memorials
and figure out how we get through all of this.
My mind went back to Healing Ink.
So I reached out to Craig and here we are today.
- We knew that there were many who were impacted
by this notably,
our own officers who were there.
So we worked to bring the kind hearts of Healing Ink
together with folks who probably would appreciate this
and find some
- We brought the local artists,
artists from other parts of Virginia,
Fredericksburg and Richmond who wanted to participate,
who said, "Hey, this is our state, we're all one."
And then we had Israeli artists who said, listen
you guys give so much to us.
We want to come here and give something to you.
So they flew in from Israel.
And then on top of that,
when other artists who've worked with us in the past heard
what we were doing, they said, "Hey we're coming."
And I said, no, no, no, no.
It's only for local artists.
They're like, "We're coming."
I said, no, but you were not taken care of your hotel.
They're like, yeah.
"Yeah, we're coming."
So they're like, "We're going to be there.
So either you can give us people to tattoo
or we're just going to annoy you and be there."
So I said, all right, let's tattoo more people.
This program demonetizes, everything.
We volunteer our time.
There's no money being exchanged.
All that's being exchanged
is you're going to get an awesome experience
and a really cool tattoo.
(tattoo gun sound) - You know, okay.
- We're going to start probably in the work spot
- And if you remember - that's fine, yeah.
- for two months ago..
- And do your best not to upper cut me
- Right. - Regardless
- Of how much I deserve it. - I won't.
- It'll be fine. - All right here we go.
(tattoo gun buzzing)
- You're right, this hurts (laughs)
- That's all for down there.
Its awful, trying to get out of there as quick as I can.
- It's okay, I'm just in my happy place.
One of the reasons I wanted to do this is
although I know I will never forget it.
When people see this,
I want them to remember it too.
I don't want
have anybody in this area.
Forget those 12 people.
If you read the Psalm,
having faith through difficult times.
And that's exactly what this has been about.
This is one of the steps in
getting through that.
Kenny and I are friends for life.
- I couldn't have got luckier
because she was the coolest lady.
To know that she liked it at the end
and it touched her that deeply is,
I mean, you know I'm kind of on Cloud 9
at the moment.
- Anytime something like this pops up,
I'm more than happy to come
and give my time.
it's a greatest job in the world.
And then to be able to get back on top of it,
it's kind of a beautiful thing.
- People happy.
I saw people walking out the door
with their tattoos or,
you know, literally floating out the door.
- They feel the change and you can see it.
You can see a person coming in when he walks in
and you see the way they walk out
and you can't deny it.
Just everything floats, you know
that's maybe some of the magic
that tattooing has.
- You know, you're broken,
broken can be fixed never the same, but it can be fixed.
That helped me understand that,
"Hey, you got to look at your victories too",
and take consideration
all the people that did come to you after,
hug you and thanked you
and everything like that.
And just going on.
- And this weekend's been super heavy in a good way.
And I think it's a really beautiful thing
to watch these people go from being scared, intimidated
to being completely relaxed,
and truly getting some healing.
And then at the end of the night
they walk away with something for the rest of their life.
And it's a beautiful thing.
Yeah, it's truly a beautiful thing.