Tattoos have long been part of military culture, and a group in North Carolina has begun using ink as a way for veterans to heal from the unseen wounds of combat. Operation Tattooing Freedom is a nonprofit organization that believes "right tattoo coupled with a willingness to share experiences can help create new emotional connections in the brain," according to its website. 

"I realized that getting the tattoo, and having the conversation with another veteran while I'm getting it, was extremely therapeutic for me, and I realized that if it worked for me, it could work for others," Lewis Hunt, Operation Tattooing Freedom founder and navy veteran, told KRQE News 13. 

The organization pairs tattoo artists who are comfortable and willing to talk with veterans and listen to their stories while giving them the tattoo of their choice at no cost. Hunt and his foundation hope that by allowing veterans to connect with someone and express themselves artistically, they will find outlets for combat-related illnesses, such as post-traumatic stress disorder and others. 

Though Operation Tattooing Freedom is only operating in North Carolina currently, it hopes to expand to a nationwide charity soon.