Battlemarks

Returning Home – BattleMarks

Veteran Stories Through Body Art

People don’t go to war and come back unchanged. BatleMarks is a story telling initiative highlighting miliary service and diversity as told through tattoos. These experiences are expressed through body art, which serves as a conduit to stories of four brave individuals' experiences. This initiative is a living depository of the diverse stories of veterans and their families in an effort to help raise awareness of the challenges some of our veterans face when returning to civilian life and the role that education plays in preparing them for the future.

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Veterans with PTSD commit suicide every day.

Recognizing Our Veterans

BattleMarks facilitates an inclusive environment, supporting a safe space for our veterans to pursue their educational goals. The unique perspectives of our stories shares critical insights into a variety of issues:

  • Ruben Almanza’s, a soldier whose service helped build a better future for his family
  • Todd Gilbert, a pansexual serving during “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”
  • Valerie Beuschlein, a spouse returning to college to help veterans through physical therapy
  • Ulises Javier Lopez, an immigrant soldier who received the Purple Heart award

BattleMarks helps increase awareness of our veterans and the efforts of MCCCD to support its student veterans.

The Maricopa Veterans Education Taskforce is incorporating these stories in Green Zone trainings to facilitate safe spaces for our veteran students and several faculty incorporate the stories to engage in classroom conversations.

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Veterans Living in Arizona

GateWay Veterans Share Their Stories

Ruben Almanza

Ruben Almanza

U.S. Army
Two tours in Afghanistan 
One tour in Korea

“It’s freedom, but freedom is not free, it’s a cost, and some people in general pay the ultimate sacrifice.”

Todd Gilbert

Todd Gilbert

U.S. Navy
Served four years in Japan 
Two tours in Afghanistan

“The military really gave me a sense of ownership of my destiny. I could do whatever I wanted to and it was really only limited by my natural abilities and how much time and effort I was going to put into it.”

Valerie Beuschlein

Valerie Beuschlein

Spouse of Veteran
Operation Iraqi Freedom

“If I can be that person to start that advocacy (raising PTSD and suicide awareness), then it’s all worth it. Everything that I did was worth it.”

Ulises Javier Lopez

Ulises Javier Lopez

U.S. Army
Two tours in Afghanistan 

“The military showed me that I was actually strong and capable of big things.”