GILBERT, Ariz. - Everyone has their own reason for wearing tattoos. Some use their body as a canvas for their creativity. Others, to memorialize a loved one.
Brandon Andrus has “22” tattooed on his neck just below his right ear. He got it soon after one of his friends had taken his own life. “22” is the average number of veterans who commit suicide each day because of PTSD.
“I wanted to get something that would raise awareness and people would ask me 'What's that 22 on your neck for? Is that your basketball number or your baseball number?’ Andrus said. "I would say ‘No’ and I would tell them about it to try to raise awareness."
Andrus is a Marine veteran who served two tours in Iraq. He also has been diagnosed with PTSD.
“I’ve had quite a few friends personally, who have committed suicide. It’s become a huge thing for me,” he said.
Andrus also has tattoos on both arms. However, it was the neck tattoos, including the “22,” that got him denied entry into Dierks Bentley's Whiskey Row in downtown Gilbert on Wednesday night.
“Showed (the security guard) my ID and he said 'I can't let you in because you have tattoos on your neck,'" Andrus said. "At first I thought he was joking, because I've never had that issue ever."
Andrus tried to explain the meaning of the tattoo but had no luck. Management still said they could allow no neck tattoos of any kind.
12 News reached out to the restaurant and its PR company and didn’t hear back, but a spokesperson for the restaurant operator told the East Valley Tribune the company's policy is based on police recommendation, adding they apologize for making Brandon upset.
“(Security) said, ‘Yeah I'm sorry. We had an issue previously with this and we have a new blanket policy that just covers everything,’” said Andrus.
Andrus wishes the restaurant would have judged his tattoo art based on its character and not as a whole.