For Veterans Day this year, I thought I would do something a little different... Being a Veteran myself, I would typically go out and snag a free breakfast, lunch, or dinner somewhere, and just enjoy the day, getting thanked by hundreds of people for my service. But this year I said, "It's time to give back... but how?"
Being that I'm a photographer, I figured that I would provide my services for free to my fellow veterans this go around. I mean, who doesn't love a free professional picture, right? But I wanted to do more than just that... I wanted to highlight each veteran that came in individually. Bringing to light in their own words the sacrifices they made, the feelings they felt, the deployments they've been on, or the realities they faced while serving the greatest country on earth. It's THEIR story, however THEY want it to be told.
I was deployed to Afghanistan in 2009, and I can tell you for a fact that although I never showed my fear on the outside, inside it was screaming. The thoughts are constantly on your mind... "is today going to be my last day? Will my family be taken care of? Do they know how much I love them? Will I ever see home again?" We often overlook or take for granted our brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, and friends who take that big courageous step of, "joining the military". But only do we realize just how much we should honor and pay tribute to them when its too late. Far too often we hear of stories on the news of "starbucks didn't put 'merry christmas' on their cups!" or "so and so celebrity passes away" or "victorias secret debuts new catalog"(not that vets don't enjoy a good quality catalog)... but in all seriousness, news articles that should not be making headlines when we still have US military personnel fighting and making huge sacrifices overseas.
Our priorities have gone down the drain... our country is turning against its own police, our citizens of different races are turning on each other, and our veterans are getting forgotten. Don't let it happen. Take our pride, honor, and country back to where it should be... united as one.
Aside from all of the nonsense in this world lately, I challenge you... to thank a Veteran for their service. Not just any thank you though, one that's straight from the heart. You'll be surprised as to how humble they are, and how quickly they thank you right back. No matter how big the sacrifice is, in the end all veterans make a sacrifice to help protect this country. Without each other, the team would crumble.
Below are pictures of Veterans, my brothers and sisters in arms, who have made sacrifices of all kinds to ensure the freedom of the greatest country on Earth, the United States of America. This is their story, in their own words.
*NOTE: This blog and these stories are not about bragging, or being the greatest story on earth. They are simply stories of veterans and their service and how THEY want it to be told. There are very heroic and epic war stories out there throughout history but this is not meant to be that.
Thank you to all Veterans... past, present, and future who serve our county with pride, honor, and integrity.
Don't forget to SHARE their stories!
Special Thanks to the following:
Hatch Reno for providing the studio space
Tina Mokuau for providing makeup and hair touchups
Nevada Pearl for bringing a bunch of snacks and drinks for everyone
Paola Martinez for assisting me during the shoot
John Pocino for keeping the veterans company while I was shooting