Exhibit Debuts Outside Buffalo Library to Start Discussion About Veterans' Mental Health
In the Air Force Reserves, Rob Healy didn't hesitate.
I come from a military family that goes back to the Revolutionary War," Healy said. "I've never thought about leaving."
In the course of the Iraq War, Healy was activated and deployed.
Yet of all the challenges he faced overseas, returning home was the most challenging.
Healy said that coming back was radical.
He says going back to normal life, like going to the grocery store, has changed him and even his relationships.
To communicate what it is like to be over there to someone who has not been, Mr. Healy explained that it takes a different sort of language.
It's why he uses the Odyssey Project by Brendan Bannon as one of his coping methods.
It is the intent of the project to use photography to tell stories that cannot be expressed in words," Bannon said.
Ten years ago, Bannon started putting on photography workshops for veterans after he made friends with a WWII vet.
This year's Odyssey Project workshop included 42 veterans' photographs, which are on display outside Buffalo & Erie County Public Library through May 31.
Later this week, UB is hosting a panel on "Developing a Sense of Meaningful Belonging among Veterans."
On Sunday, April 3, six veterans will facilitate a program to accomplish one goal for all service members and veterans.
"Works like this are important and helpful as they try to rebuild their lives," Vaso Neofotistos, UB's associate professor of anthropology and the panel project's investigator, said.
Erica Duncan, a Navy veteran, is among them.
So, that's the photo I took of what PTSD is like. You're always half-swimming," Duncan explained.
In the aftermath of her time at the base, Duncan suffered a sexual assault and had trouble adjusting to life at home due to the training she underwent on the job.
Even so, getting into the photography exhibit and the panel discussion has helped her.
"I feel like I'm doing something worthwhile," Duncan said. I've actually found myself as a result of it."
Healy has also found some serenity.
She said, "I'm able to communicate with people in a way I never imagined possible.".
Trauma couldn't do that.