WAUKEE – A local tattoo shop is making its mark on the City of Waukee.

They – along with several other local businesses – are raising money for a special project. But they are also using this fundraiser to shine a light on an issue of their own.

Under sharp needles and colorful designs, there is a message that goes deeper than the surface. The symbol “IGY6” means “I’ve got your back.” It is a show of support for those who serve our country.

John Hintz is a 20-year veteran of the military. He also owns Warrior Tattoo Studio in Waukee. He says he wants to raise awareness about the dangers of PTSD.

“I lost a lot of guys overseas in combat, but also lost a lot of guys back home to suicide,” Hintz said. “I’ve seen a lot of things. Those things inevitably bring you down sometimes. The key to all of this is that you realize that you’re not alone, that somebody’s got your back. Reach out to somebody, they’ll be there for you.”

Dozens of customers helped his shop bring in around $4,000 on Saturday. For some, the ink hits close to home.

“Even just about a month and a half ago, I lost a good friend of mine that I deployed twice with and I just wish he would have reached out because he definitely knew I had his back,” said Andrea Hardy of Altoona, who serves in the military. “It’s just a nice little reminder that we’re not alone.”

And getting those special tattoos is more than just a permanent mark. They are helping create a lasting honor for our service men and women.

All the money raised at Warrior Tattoo Studio, and other participating businesses, will help create a Veteran’s Memorial, which will be placed in front of the Waukee Community Center. The project, organized by the Waukee City Council, is a way for the community to pay their respects.

“There will actually be eight black, granite pillars,” said Anna Bergman, who serves on the Waukee City Council.

“Our men and women who are serving in the military and our police departments and our fire departments, they’re the foundation of the community,” Bergman said. “So each pillar that we have is supposed to represent what they’ve done to act as the foundation of our community.”

Hintz says he is thrilled that every stroke of his machine is making a mark on society.

“To take part in something like a memorial being built here in Waukee, something that was needed, that is going to be amazing,” Hintz said.

The $4,000 raised Saturday by Warrior Tattoo Studio is the largest chunk of money being given to the Waukee Veteran’s Memorial project. The goal is to raise $25,000 total to complete the project. Donations are being accepted through Memorial Day.