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Tattoos Help Veterans Deal With Pain

When vets come back from war , they are usually offered therapy options to deal with their mental and physical pain. That often includes counseling, rehab, group sessions, even hypnosis. But some military men and women express their pain in other ways, including the art of tattooing.
When vets come back from war , they are usually offered therapy options to deal with their mental and physical pain. That often includes counseling, rehab,  group sessions, even hypnosis. 
But some military men and women express their pain in other ways, including the art of tattooing. 


Samuel Walley is no stranger to tattoos.  Each one is a memory in ink:  A story, a part of his life. 

But Walley says his tattoos are more than just statements....or art.

They are also therapeutic, especially the ones he's gotten since he lost his limbs to a homemade bomb when he was stationed in Afghanistan.   He's been rehabbing for about 18 months now.

"This limb was pretty much blasted off, immediately.  The muscle had contracted back up into the leg.  It pretty was gruesome."

Not only do the tattoos detract from Walley's obvious scars, they also help him deal with the pain he has to endure.

Today, he's getting a tattoo of St. Michael, the patron saint of his Army Airborne unit.

"When you start getting a tattoo, it actually releases all the pain, and makes your body focus more on the area that's getting tattooed."

"That's the first thing he said to me, wow, this is awesome, cause now I don't have to think about my leg."

Tina Marie, owner of Tantric Tattoo Boutique in Sandy Spring, Maryland works with a lot of wounded vets. 

She says many are quiet, but others want, and need, to talk about their experiences.

"People share here, a lot of things they wouldn't share with anyone.  I just try to listen and be open and not be offended by anything."

Which is one of the reasons Walley comes back again and again to work with Marie.


(Carl Azuz for CNN's Health Minute)

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