Erin Trieb, First Prize
2011 FotoVisura Grant
In the past decade America has become accustomed to viewing images of US troops involved in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. As media coverage of both prolonged conflicts begins to wan, American audiences grow numb. However, the severity and impact of these wars on those who fight becomes increasingly detrimental as service members return home.
One of the largest issues America currently faces is the inability to fully support its service members returning home and the lack of awareness and conscious effort it requires. The ongoing drawdown of US troops in Iraq and the future drawdown in Afghanistan presents hundreds of thousands of military service members returning home with both physical and psychological trauma from war—the latter often being more difficult to detect and treat successfully. These psychological effects may include Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), depression and suicidal ideation. According to recent studies, 30% of veterans and active service members from both wars are diagnosed with PTSD, while an additional 25% are diagnosed with TBI, which has similar symptomology to PTSD. In 2009 and 2010 the U.S. military lost more active duty service members to suicide than it did to combat related deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan combined.
I have personally witnessed the impact of these wars on the welfare of military service members and the veteran community. Since 2009, I have documented US troops in Afghanistan and their transition home, which for some included struggles with emotional instability, substance addiction, depression, domestic abuse, and suicide. This from of aftermath has severe consequences and rippling effects on their families and surrounding communities.
The project I am proposing, titled The Homecoming Project focuses on the psychological and emotional impact both wars have on America’s newest generation of veterans and their communities. It create a personal connection between the public and the service members who need their support and understanding.
Erin Trieb, 2011FotoVisura Grant Winner