As a combat Veteran of the Iraqi Freedom War, Veteran services have become a huge part of my passion. Not only am I combat Veteran, I was a photojournalist in the Marine Corps during the War. I myself have felt and seen the effects of what war can do to people. I have looked PTSD in the face and I was beaten down hard initially. I was knocked down and at a few points wasn’t going to get back up. After a year of battling my own doubts, I committed to finishing my Masters Degree and making a life of my own. Photography has always been my passion and I want to combine my passion of working with Veterans and Photography to get this information out to people who aren’t necessarily ready to see it. The journalistic and artistic world at times have controversial muse’s and homeless Vets may just be one right now.
The effects of War has put our men and women who gave up everything to serve their country on the streets, and now it's our time to create awareness and show the world we need to help these men and women. The image of my project is from a fellow Marine I was serving with who carried his cross with him but on his rifle. I took this picture before we went out on a mission in Iraq and it was one of the photos that stuck with me and spoke to me over the years. Being in the DC area, I see quite a few homeless people, Veterans are a high percentage of them. I took an entire day a few years back and spent it with a homeless man in DC. I had no phone, no money, just my ID in case anything were to happen. It was then I began to see how tough it was living on the streets (and I only did it for one day). While I have been to war and faced the enemy head on, after spending a day on the streets “homeless” I think I might want to go back to war before I go back to living on the streets. We all remember 9/11 and the images that will be engrained in our minds from that horrific day. These images bring out the best and worst in us all. We find compassion for those families who have lost and we find anger in those who did this to our country. We find many emotions at the stem of these acts. This is what I want to capture in our homeless Vets. While it may not be to the level of what happened on 9/11, how many of our Vets who are homeless are dying each year? What can we do to educate people about this situation in America.
What the Veterans will receive initially:
My plan is to provide each homeless veteran with an item of clothing or pair of shoes. I will also be ensuring them they are able to know what organizations in the DC area they can go to, to get help and direction on how to get back on their feet. I'm currently meeting with local charities and organizations who are equipped to assist these veterans who are battling challenges in homelessness as well as other areas in life.
Step 1: I will be hitting the streets in my free time (mostly on the weekends) and occasionally during the week to get in touch with homeless Vets. I will also be working with the local VA offices who currently work with homeless Vets as well.
Step 2: Talk with the Vets explaining what my purpose is and get a signed consent form releasing all rights to the photos I take to me, giving me full permission to take their photos and use them in my book and future projects.
Step 3: Get photos of Vets once all paperwork is signed off on. (Finished by September 30th)
Step 4: Get photos laid out into book. (Already have a designer and producer of the book on board for the production and printing of the product). Finished by October 15th
Step 5: Print books for local VA offices, backers, and place for sale on website for other people who may want a copy. (Finished by November 15th)
Step 6: Once photo book project is complete begin preparation for Gallery Exhibit Project Imagery and stories will be included in the 24 page photo book documentary of the Homeless Veterans of Washington D.C., Maryland and Virginia areas.
This photo book will be sent to many locations around the DC metro area and will be then available for sale after the project is started. The next step after this project, will be to expand the book to a full on art exhibit in the DC/MD/VA area.
My personal Goals for this project:
Create Artwork/Imagery Inspiring Others
Document the Homelessness of Veterans
Tell the Story of those I photograph in addition to the photos
Find a varied group of military Veterans from different generations who are homeless on the streets
Examples of my work:
How this all started:
I didn’t know it at the time, but when I was about 15 this entire movement I want to create was set into motion. I began finding a passion in capturing moments with a camera that were just that split second we may never remember other than with a photo. My photo passion met with my passion to serve in the military then met in 2002 after 9/11 when I began talking with recruiters. I enlisted as a photojournalist and then began working taking photos and writing stories about the Marine Corps. After 8 years active duty in the Marines and facing a challenging exit from the Marine Corps battling the effects of PTSD, I found my passion, I wanted to learn and help educate everyone I could about what Veterans can do, who they are, and what they mean to our country. Then I spent a day with a homeless man which changed my life as well. Fast forward nearly two years and I had a light bulb go off telling me to tell the story of those who can’t tell it themselves. Thus I am putting together the first of 3 projects to tell the story of homeless Veterans in the DC metro area. I look forward to getting you all the stories of our men and women who have served and need our help.
This project is not going toward a specific cause, but in turn going to create awareness by getting these books in the hands of those who can make a difference.
Where will funds go from the project: All funds will be put toward printing, sending, packaging, and distributing the final books. It will also cover costs incurred over the time it takes to acquire the photos. It will also cover marketing costs for press releases about the launch of the project as well as the final product being finished to inform people as to where they can find this book to purchase.
To follow the progress follow me here:
The next Update will be coming soon with Videos from all of my connections through the years who have a connection to Veterans and want to share their thoughts. Next along with the Videos will be a quick glimpse at some work on the streets meeting with the homeless and those at the shelters.
Risks and challenges
The risks involved with this project is getting the full amount of homeless veterans to participate in the research, photography and cooperation to complete project.
There is minimal risk for this project as I have all preproduction and printing lined up as well as a place to sell the final product and press already lined up for project start and finish benchmarks.
My Combat Vet experience has already made it easy getting into the ring of people I need to make this project flourish beyond what I can even hope for in following my new passion in life.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (31 days)