By SHERIDAN ROY
Propaganda Ink tattoo parlor, at 400 N. Main St., wants combat veterans and Gold Star families to know their battles are not forgotten. Owner and tattoo artist Steve Molnar is offering “tattoo therapy” free of charge to them.
“This ‘therapy’ is something that is naturally occurring when people get into a chair. It happens in salons, barber shops, tattoo shops—people just start to kind of open up,” said Molnar. “When I’m tattooing people, they start to open up and start telling these stories, even though I may be a stranger to them.”
Southington Veterans Committee member John DeMello said that this is an important outlet for combat veterans. “Some of the old-timers are quiet for years and want to up and share their stories,” he said.
The tattoo artist, who has always been a proud supporter of service men and women, started to realize through tattooing veterans that many of them had been holding things in and felt a growing pressure.
“I would love to be able to do this for people who seem to really need that break,” said Molnar. “My hope is it can give them some kind of—maybe not complete closure—but that it takes a little pressure off of them.”
DeMello said that the veteran community is thankful for these sorts of business ventures, and that he’s seeing an increase.
“I think it’s great that the community is looking to get involved and give back,” said DeMello.
Though Molnar is not a veteran, he makes a point to be involved in organizations that give back to veterans. The tattoo parlor is dotted with military memorabilia including flags, symbols, patches and even some equipment.
“We have a lot of these people, men and women, out there who are serving and they are out there for us,” he said. “They come back, and sometimes, we kind of forget.”
In the back corner of Propaganda Ink stands a manikin dressed in military garb which Molnar said serves as a reminder of veterans’ and active duty military’s service to the country. The manikin represents someone who returned to life after service and faced difficulty adjusting.
Molnar had visited a flea market and found a box of “stuff I shouldn’t have.” The box had a man’s VA paperwork along with personal items from war times. Over three weekends, he returned to the flea market and found other personal items, including the man’s military uniform, which now dresses the manikin at the tattoo parlor.
“I tried to research him and I couldn’t find out exactly what happened to him, but the police reports are the only trail, and he was getting worse and worse,” said Molnar. “That to me is a reminder of what can happen when they come home. I’m not saying tattoos could’ve helped this guy, but it’s the thought that, maybe, he could’ve had someone to talk to.”
Molnar hopes the tattoos he gives to veterans and gold star family members will be simple reminders of something more positive or inspirational
Veterans and Gold Star family members are eligible for one free tattoo of a reasonable size. The tattoo does not necessarily need to be military related. Interested people should bring a military identification card or military paperwork.
For more information, call the tattoo parlor at (860) 426-9964.
To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Sheridan Roy, email her at SRoy@SouthingtonObserver.com.