These Pictures Will Haunt You…

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These photos are hard to look at, but impossible to turn away from.

Nine wounded warriors are photographed in this beautifully done portrait series meant to bring attention to the high price of war.

In most cases, these brave men and women were the only survivors of violent and destructive acts and have only their scars to show for their bravery and heroism.

They continue to demonstrate their bravery by allowing these photographs to be published.

This is much too high a price to pay.  Some vets share their stories.  Their optimism in the face of tragedy is to be admired.

Read about the photo series below.

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It’s impolite to stare. But when it comes to severely injured soldiers, maybe we don’t look enough; or maybe we’d rather not see wounded veterans at all.

That’s the message you get from photographer David Jay’s Unknown Soldier series. Jay spent three years taking portraits of veterans returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but before that — for nearly 20 years — he was a fashion photographer. His stylish, artful images appeared in magazines like Vogue and Cosmopolitan

“We hear about ‘this number of men were killed’ and ‘this many were injured,'” Jay says, “and we think of them — maybe they got shot — or we don’t really picture what these injured men look like.”

So Jay visited Walter Reed National Military Medical Center outside Washington, D.C., and one of the first injured soldiers he met there was Capt. Nicholas Vogt. In 2011, an explosive device detonated under Vogt’s feet in Afghanistan, nearly killing him. His legs had to be amputated…

Spc. Robert Bernier sustained burns over 60 percent of his body after he was hit by incoming artillery. He appears here with his daughter Layla.

Jay believes these wounds belong to all of us: “You can imagine how many times each of these men and women have heard a parent tell their child, ‘Don’t look. Don’t stare at him. That’s rude.’ I take these pictures so that we can look; we can see what we’re not supposed to see. And we need to see them because we created them.”

Jay believes seeing is one step closer to understanding.

As one commenter said: “These should hang in the office of every congressman, senator, and President to make them think twice before sending our troops into harms’ way…”

You can see all of Jay’s portraits, hear an audio about the project, and learn more about these wounded warriors on NPR.org

 

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