From David's first appointment with Vocational Rehabilitation, he has been upbeat, friendly, and expressed the desire to help others. Anyone hearing David's story of being injured by an IED (Improvised Explosive Device) would think he is the one who needs the help. However, David is grateful for the VA benefits he has received and wants to "give back."

David's dream has been to operate his own tattoo and piercing parlor, and he participated in an internship prior to coming to DVR. Self-employment was determined to be the best option for David in regard to employment due to his physical injuries and resulting pain as well as his acquired brain injury (ABI) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). David was injured on September 5, 2007 and is still experiencing daily pain. He continues treatment and is scheduled for surgery on his back in October 2011.

DVR's Small Business Consultant Inge Huband met with David in Torrington on November 22, 2010. David had already located a building and was working with the owner on the remodeling. He also had started on the business plan that VR had e-mailed to him. The first of February 2011 David's business was being questioned by the City Council primarily because his plan was to have an arcade in the front of his business so the youth (18 and over) would have a place to "hang out." In March the City Council approved the tattoo parlor but not the arcade.

Vocational Rehabilitation provided David with vocational counseling and guidance, assessment, equipment, supplies, and tools, including some items purchased through State Surplus. David contributed several thousand dollars of his own toward his business, as did his landlord. One concern David has expressed continuously is that of sanitation and safety. David is very conscientious in this regard and has stated he will not work with employees who do not follow his policies and guidelines. This is very apparent when visiting his business.

The number of returning customers speaks for itself in regard to the quality of the work and service David and his employee provide.The Chamber of Commerce provided David with a ribbon cutting in May, and David was then open for business. Four months later David's business is still exceeding his expectations to the extent that David paid for some of the expenses himself that VR had intended to cover. David wanted the money to be available to someone else. Self Xpression's has expanded to include some clothing with the goal of eventually having their own line as well as possibly another parlor. David's customers are not only local but they also travel from Cheyenne, Casper, Scottsbluff, and other locations. The number of returning customers speaks for itself in regard to the quality of the work and service David and his employee provide. David has agreed to be the site for an internship for another VR client later this year, and he is in the process of purchasing the building.

David has certainly educated his VR Counselor and Inge about the tattoo and piercing business! We both enjoyed working with David and wish him continued success. As a Veteran who served and was injured in Iraq, we also want to express our gratitude to David for serving our country.