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Lincoln County locals creating unique maps for veterans tracking their journey of military service

Published: Jul. 2, 2021 at 6:34 PM EDT
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LINCOLNTON, N.C. (WBTV) - According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, there are roughly 19 million military veterans living across the United States.

Each veteran has his or her own journey through their time serving our country.

Two Lincoln County businessmen are helping them to reflect and remember where their boots took them across the world, through their new business venture.

Hilmi Ari and Jason Ingle have been in the printing business for more than two decades.

They are channeling their creativity into honoring veterans by printing one-of-a-kind maps of service.

They call it My BootPrints, and they say they are just getting started.

Hilmi Ari says business slowed down during the pandemic, and it led them to start thinking about new ventures.

“Why don’t we come up with something that would honor veterans,” said Ari. “We could take anywhere they’ve been on a map and from there put their medals, their ribbons, their designations, their unit badges, patches.”

The idea is coming to life, giving veterans like Alex Patton a sense of tangible pride.

“I started out in South Carolina, then went to Georgia, my first duty station was in Kansas, the next duty station was all the way in Korea,” Patton said.

Patton serves in a different way these days as the Director of Lincoln County Veterans Services.

He says these prints are a one-of-a-kind keepsake for veterans and their families.

“Especially World War two veterans, we’re losing them every day, there’s very few left,” Patton said. “They’re dying without their families knowing where they served and what they did. I have not seen a better way to show that and honor that service.”

The co-founders of My BootPrints say the prints are also giving them a newfound sense of purpose.

“This is fun,” Ari said. “It’s a challenge because each one has a story and it may not be the veteran themselves, it could be their family searching for where they went.”

Once printed, they can also be framed by another Lincolnton-based company called HartCrafters.

Everything is done locally.

“My son’s gonna do the website, wife’s gonna try to do social media,” Ari said.

Next on their agenda, they are making prints for law enforcement officers.

“I have no idea where this is gonna go,” he said.

The sky is the limit.

“When they get it and they see it they go ‘this is gonna be cherished by my family,’” he said. “You can’t duplicate the feeling. It’s amazing.”

So far they say they’ve given prints to about 15 local veterans, and they’re starting to get calls from people across the country.

If you want to learn more about this or order a print for someone, go to www.mybootprints.net.

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