Santa Clara County Library District Partners with Local Libraries for the “WAR INK” Project

SANTA CLARA COUNTY, CALIF. November 13, 2014 Currently 2.6 million U.S. service members have been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan since 2000 with more than 500,000 returning vets now residing in California.   In an effort to help Americans struggling to find meaningful ways to honor U.S. veterans, the Santa Clara County Library District (SCCLD) has joined forces with the War Ink Project and 20 other California libraries to support a new and powerful on-line exhibit to honor and recognize the service and sacrifices made by U.S. military men and women serving at home and abroad (

Launched on Tuesday, November 11, 2014, WAR INK--( is an honest and emotionally raw collection of original video, photography and audio interviews using the memorial tattoos and words of 24 veterans from around California.  The exhibit promotes open dialogue between civilians and returning vets while providing a safe forum for these veterans to tell their stories and experiences.    SCCLD played a critical role in recruiting local veterans to participate in the WAR INK exhibit.   

Featured among the 24 veterans from California is U.S. Marine Corps veteran Jose Cruz of Los Altos Hills, CA (served 2003-2006 and 2008-2009).   Santa Clara County Library District is promoting this exhibit to ensure the general public has access to this information and hear these stories and experiences.   “Libraries have a responsibility to provide resources to all citizens, which includes serving our veterans. Libraries collect the stories that tell us who we are as a society,” stated Nancy Howe, Santa Clara County Library District County Librarian.  

“WAR INK emerged out of a need to recognize veterans’ stories of service and sacrifices and to bridge the divide between the veteran and civilian communities,” says WAR INK co-creator Jason Deitch, a former Army medic and military sociologist. “This is both an exhibit and a forum, using tattoos as a springboard for veterans to share their stories.”

Stark, beautiful, disturbing and often darkly humorous, the featured tattoos in WAR INK are a visual expression of memories and emotions that can be difficult for veterans to discuss openly. But the creators of WAR INK and the 24 men and women who bravely shared their stories and their tattoos hope this openness will help civilians develop a deeper understanding of their experiences and provide a safe entry point to honestly and authentically engage in a conversation.

“Veterans need ways to reconnect with their communities,” says Chris Brown, WAR INK co-creator and senior community library manager at the Contra Costa County Library.  “As librarians we’re pleased to play a part in bridging that gap and sharing the poignant stories of our veterans.

Elegantly produced, WAR INK walks visitors through four multimedia chapters. In the veterans’ own words, they remind guests that “We Were You” by sharing their experiences before they entered the military. The “Changed Forever” chapter is a searing examination of the horrors of war, followed by “Living Scars,” a candid look at the physical and emotional wounds of their military experiences. The exhibit’s final chapter, “Living Not Surviving,” tells of the challenges veterans face, but also of their strength and resilience as they try and return to their communities.

”To tell the WAR INK story, Dietch and Brown assembled an impressive coalition of diverse partners, including the StoryCorps Military Voices Initiative and premier photographer Johann Wolf. Video for the site was directed by filmmaker Rebecca Murga and the online exhibit was designed by Favorite Medium.

WAR INK was supported in part by the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act, administered in California by the State Librarian, and made possible with support from the following funders and donors: Cal Humanities, the Pacific Library Partnership and StoryCorps.

EDITOR'S NOTE: For more information on the War Ink Project, please visit:

Support for veterans begins by really listening to their stories and experiences. Visit the WAR INK exhibit at  For further information on services available to U.S. Veterans in Santa Clara County, go to

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About the Santa Clara County Library District

Known as one of America’s best 100 public libraries, the Santa Clara County Library District promotes knowledge, ideas, and cultural enrichment. Its collection includes more than 1.9 million books, videos, CDs, DVDs, audiobooks, eBooks and extensive online resources accessible from home or work.

For eleven years, the Library has ranked as one of the best in the nation for its size by Hennen’s American Public Library Ratings. Also recognized as one of America’s 2013 Star Libraries by Library Journal, the Santa Clara County Library District is one of the most-used public resources in the region.

The Santa Clara County Library District includes two bookmobiles, an online library, seven community libraries and one branch library serving Campbell, Cupertino, Gilroy, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, Milpitas, Monte Sereno, Morgan Hill, Saratoga and the unincorporated areas of Santa Clara County. In 2013, the Santa Clara County Library District had more than 215,000 library cardholders and welcomed 3.2 million visitors who borrowed 9.7 million items. Visit Santa Clara County Library District online at

Nancy Howe/Mark Fink/Lili Smith
Santa Clara County Library District
(408) 293-2326 ext. 3001/3010/3014