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Military ties motivate tattoo shop in Killeen

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Posted: Sunday, November 24, 2013 4:30 am

The biggest difference about Army Bratt Tattoo is its purpose — to serve those who serve.

The Killeen shop, which opened Monday, is the brainchild of Tameka Fortson and her husband, Ichiban, who uses an industry name. “My father was in the military, and I was born on Fort Bragg,” he said.

“That’s where we got the idea for this shop and its name. Everyone here has a military thread, and we are all so thankful for what those people do for us, so we want to try and give back to them as much as we can.”

Ichiban, 36, has 20 years of tattooing experience and previous shop ownership. Alongside him stands Army Bratt’s master piercer, Chris Rodgers, who like many of the shop’s other employees, first served his country as a Marine before making a career in body art. “I spent 15 years in the military, five in the Marine Corps, and another 10 as a special operator serving in Iraq, Afghanistan and Kosovo,” Rodgers said. “I learned how to do body piercings from a friend at his (tattoo) shop, and I have been doing it for about six years now. Once Ichiban called me and asked to join his shop down here, I was in.”

While his friendship with the shop owner helped lead him to Fort Hood, Rodgers also credits the chance to interact with soldiers as a motivation to join the Army Bratt team.

“I’ve been through a lot, since I got out of the military,” Rodgers said.

“I have had my own struggles with PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) and even attempted suicide, but I think that I can provide therapy for soldiers who come in to our shop. We’re a welcoming place who will listen to anyone’s problems.”

With a successful first week behind them, Ichiban and Fortson can focus on the future of the shop and the Army Bratt Tattoo franchise. “Someday we would like to open an Army Bratt Tattoo at every Army base in the country,” Fortson said. “But one thing is for sure, we are planning on staying in Fort Hood for a long time.”

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