Joe Johnson was the first of the veterans to make it to my studio where I could more easily shoot with a digital back which, ultimately, allows the best quality portrait available.Â It was a luxury and gave us a chance for a long talk.Â That was back at the end of December.
In the last few days, I have heard from acquaintances in Seattle, Virginia, Missouri, and Oslo.Â The two from Seattle and Virginia are both vets and are active in the continued struggle to provide themselves and many others the medical care and support that they need.Â My friend in Missouri has a couple drinking buddies who may be willing to participate in this book project also.Â In addition, there are several vets living on Pine Ridge, one of whom was crippled by poor health care.
In contrast to what I’ve been finding in the US which is that the veterans since and including Vietnam are more or less on their own, often unable to keep jobs, becoming homeless, being incarcerated, and often crippled by less than stellar care provided by the VA, the veteran who contacted me from Oslo had a different tale to tell.Â He served in two different conflicts, and when he returned, he was met by the General of the Army, given thorough physical and psychological exams, and has received calls from the appropriate government office, first on a weekly basis, then monthly, checking to see if he was ok and needed anything.
Obviously, it’s time to think about funding.Â Assignments? Print Sales? Donations? At the moment, I’m thinking only about travel expenses.Â I will probably drive to Missouri and Virginia, but I’ll need to fly to Seattle.Â Oslo is probably out of the question, although the story will somehow make it into the book, and, if so, it sure would be nice to get that photograph…