CHANDLER, AZ — A camaraderie like no other is taking place at The Spot Barber Lounge near Arizona Avenue and Ray Road in Chandler.
“We were both Navy, so we get along good,” said veteran and customer Tyler Sundsmo.
“It’s awesome to be able to talk to someone that knows what I’m talking about,” said Navy veteran and barber Johnathan Clarke.
"The Spot" is owned and run by Charles Jackson, who served in the Army for multiple tours.
“I compare getting out of the military almost to getting out of prison, you really have to re-socialize back into society,” said Jackson.
He says he's hoping to create a sanctuary for other veterans while forming lifelong bonds. And what better place than the barber chair?
“Every time I come to get a haircut, my wife’s like, 'what took so long?' I’m like, 'oh they just do a good job and they're thorough,' but the reality is I’m talking to the people man, and we’re sharing stories about when we were enlisted and being away from our families,” said Sundsmo.
“There were very few physical wounds that I had, I do have those, but it’s the psychological ones that really mess with people,” said Navy vet Chris Andersen.
Like so many others, when Andersen returned from Somalia, he avoided help due to a feeling there were others who needed it more.
“It’s a very lonely place to be until you go to someplace like this, these guys are just more than willing to talk to you because they’ve been there and they know,” said Andersen while getting his beard trimmed.
They talk about everything, whether it’s tips for dealing with the VA or the intricacies of coming home.
“You know when you come back from service and you’re dealing with [your] own personal mental struggles and how it affects your family and the things you’ve done to overcome, we can share what we've learned, what’s worked for us,” said Clarke.
These men are ready to listen and more importantly share the ups and downs with people brave enough to step forward.
“It’s nice to walk in here and hear everyone else's stories. There’s mutual admiration,” said Sundsmo.
“When we’re all in here together, we all almost feel like we’re back in the military, the way we talk, the way we analyze things, it just makes things really comfortable,” said Jackson.