New Belfast business owner and army veteran, uses her work to help her heal

Army vet becomes new business owner
Army vet becomes new business owner(Owen Kingsley)
Published: Aug. 26, 2020 at 5:16 PM EDT
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BELFAST, Maine (WABI) - Shawna Barnes, the new owner of Images Belfast, formerly known as County Copy Center, is opening shop during a tough time for small businesses.

Providing support for much of the surrounding community.

“We do a lot of prints for the hospital, the police department, all of the towns. And we do all of the municipal forms so your tax registration and voter registration and all of those forms,” said Shawna Barnes.

Shawna's story is unlike most other small business owners.

She discovered graphic design after becoming disabled while serving in the Army in Iraq from 2007 until 2011.

“The FOB I was at had open burn pits. I started having seizures which we now believe is due to toxic exposure. That sent me home, and I went through the med board process. I started having cognitive decline issues. In my bones I have some musculo-skeletal issues, I’ve got PTSD, my Myasthenia Gravis is an autoimmune disease. I couldn’t do my job so I decided to re-train and do graphic design when I got out. I failed classes cause I had some cognitive decline,” said Shawna Barnes.

Years of persistence with graphic design has given her a creative outlet, and added motivation after nearly a decade of rehab.

“It’s given me quality of life back. And to the point where I go from being bed bound a month to two months out of the year, and home bound the rest of the year. To now, I bought the business and hope to see it continue to thrive and grow,” said Shawna Barnes.

Shawna credits her family, her community, and her service dog Andy with getting her to where she is today.

“I really want this to be a place that people come and know that we’re going to do what we can to help one another. Because if we don’t have the community we have nothing,” said Shawna Barnes.

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