We’ve all heard the tragic stories about suicides amongst our nation’s finest serving in the military; the harrowing tales about their difficulties transitioning to civilian life and, of course, their struggles overcoming Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. But have we really seen it? Not really.
Devin Mitchell is a photographer living in California who started taking photographs of veterans in order to document their lives, and the Veteran Vision Project was born. The photographs feature veterans looking into mirrors in their civilian clothes juxtaposed with themselves in uniform. Some photographs appear to show some veterans adjusting to civilian life; a few are married couples with children. Yet, it also captures the veterans who are struggling with PTSD and thoughts of suicide. It’s become a research project, according to the website:
On August 8th, 2014, student and photographer Devin Mitchell began backpacking/traveling the west coast in search of veteran stories in hopes of documenting these individuals through the art of pictures. What resulted has developed into a landmark effort, joined in by several core advisors that are people whom Devin has met along the way. The Veteran Vision Project is an independent, privately funded and organized academic photo essay of American military service members through a series of pictures. The Veteran Vision Project is a physical coffee table book, and the academic photo essay itself is not a non-profit entity; rather, it may partner with existing organizations to allocate resources and to deliver a message.
The Veteran Vision Project is currently in development to become a research study. Veterans will participate in a survey, and in-personal interviews to assist with providing data regarding personal experience from time spent in the service. The study will continue for approximately 5 years (or 10,000 photographs) which ever one comes first. The data will then be aggregated into a thesis.
In a video about the project, one veteran, Jared Comini of the U.S. Marine Corps, found taking a photo of him pointing a double-barreled shotgun under his chin to be therapeutic since he himself suffers from thoughts of suicide. Blessedly, he doesn’t act on those thoughts because he thinks of his family and the friends he’s lost.
“I keep going for them,” he says.
We’ve all heard about the lives of veterans and their struggles. Now, we get to see it.
(Huge hat tip to BuzzFeed)