Military Connection: Prosthetic Tattoo Art for Veteran Amputees: By Debbie Gregory

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By Debbie Gregory.

Since 2008, ProstheticInk.com has been providing amputees with a way to express themselves, while at the same time embracing their identity. Customers of ProstheticInk.com, some of them military Veterans, have found this company’s products offer a way to empower themselves, overcoming the need to hide their prosthesis under long pants and long sleeves. Instead, PorostheticInk.com’s artwork inspires amputees to confidently live life to the fullest, proudly baring their prostheses.

ProstheticInk.com is the first company in the world to offer amputees airbrushed, hand-brushed, custom designed prosthetic art, using metallic paints and chrome. They have painted on arm and leg prostheses, ankle-foot orthotics, knee-ankle-foot orthotics, orthopedic braces, cranial helmets, and adaptive sports gear.

The company was founded by Dan Horkey, who had the brilliant idea for “Prosthetic Tattoo Art” because he himself lost part of his left leg in a 1985 motorcycle accident. For years, Horkey said that he covered up his prosthesis, not wanting to draw negative attention to it. In 2005, he began fiddling with adding artwork to his own prosthetic leg.  In 2006, Horkey came up with the idea to cover his prosthesis with tattooed flames.

“The moment I put fiery flame artwork on my socket, the compliments from strangers made me stand tall, and my self-esteem went through the roof,” Horkey says. “I wear my prosthesis with pride.”

What began as a one-off tattoo on one prosthetic leg spread like wildfire. ProstheticInk.com has provided artwork for dozens of amputees and orthopedic brace users.

According to a report from the Congressional Research Service, there have been 1,558 U.S. military service members with major limb amputations as a result of injuries sustained in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan as of December 31, 2013. According to a 2008 study, as of 2005, an estimated 1.6 million Americans were living with the loss of at least one limb. Experts, including the Amputee Coalition of America, estimate that today, the number is closer to 2 million Americans.

To date, ProstheticInk.com has only served twelve purchase orders for Veteran amputees. But Horkey says that there have been over 100 more claims for his services. From 2009-2012, the VA agreed to pay for the expenses for ProstheticInk.com to apply a Veteran amputee’s personality to their prosthetics. Since 2012, Horkey says that many VA claims for the artwork have been denied, deemed “unnecessary” by many claims officials. He says that not every VA office is denying the claims, and not all claims are being denied.

But Horkey wants all amputees, especially Veterans, to feel the freedom and empowerment that his flames have brought him. He is doing everything in his power to reach out to more Veteran amputees and find ways to make his company’s services available at no cost to the Vets. Horkey has been reaching out to legislators, VA reps and is looking to partner with non-profit Veterans organizations in order to make this happen. Horkey said that he would eventually like to expand ProstheticInk.com to the point where he could use the company to provide Veteran amputees with jobs.

Horkey recommends the following advice to any Veteran that is trying to get the VA to cover the cost of Prosthetic Ink: 1) Don’t take no for an answer. Keep pestering the VA until you find someone willing to help you. 2) Ask your Prosthetist to submit a request to your VAMC for approval. 3) Contact Dan Horkey directly at (360) 895- 1976 or [email protected]

For more information about ProstheticInk.com or “Prosthetic Tattoo Art” visit www.prostheticink.com.

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Military Connection: Prosthetic Tattoo Art for Veteran Amputees: By Debbie Gregory