BREWER, Maine — It’s not a typical fundraiser, by any means.
Just a day before the nation honors and celebrates its veterans on Veterans Day, folks in the greater Bangor area came together, pushing up their sleeves early for an important cause.
It’s the 3rd annual Veteran’s Benefit Tattoo Contest sponsored by the Maine Veterans Project and Diversified Ink Tattoo and held at Jeff’s Catering and Event Center in Brewer.
"Tattoos, Harley's, veterans, they're all synonymous," said Doc Goodwin, a combat veteran and President and Founder of the Maine Veterans Project. "It's a pretty awesome combo."
The idea for this event came to Goodwin 3 years ago, when he wanted to bring veterans together and raise money through something many veterans enjoy.
Tattoos in seven different categories were judged by local tattoo artists.
"It's difficult for a lot of veterans, for a lot of them [to] share stories," said Jason Drake, a tattoo artist at Diversified Ink. "A lot of what veterans' tattoos are often about is stories. Everybody's got a story. Veterans tell theirs that way a lot of times."
Drake would know. He's a veteran himself, having served in the Army in the 1990's.
Now, he tattoos a lot of veterans.
"Military people love tattoos," added Drake. "It's almost a hallmark of being in the military for a lot of people."
It's in his chair where many veterans feel they can finally open up.
"[When you] get them in there for those long sessions, you hear a lot of very intense stories," said Drake.
"Painful topics are much easier to talk about when you're expressing them through tattoos," said Goodwin. "Basically, I have lost so many friends to suicide. It's time to step up and start doing something about it."
All of the proceeds from the event goes to the Maine Veterans Project to aid veterans through the hardships of coming home and adjusting back to civilian life.