SSG Knauss Honored With Art by Local Veterans Organization

SSG Knauss Honored With Art by Local Veterans Organization

It’s been over six months since 13 American service members were killed at the Kabul airport during the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan.

During that time, we shared many emotional stories. One that hit close to home for many was a piece with Paula Knauss Selph, the mother of U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Ryan Knauss.

Ryan grew up in Tennessee, but his mother lives in the Tampa Bay Area. One local veteran outreach organization is doing what they can to help heal her pain.

Ever since childhood, drawing has always been something Brian Morris has loved.

“I did have my sketch book with me when I deployed to Saudi Arabia back in late 90s during Operation Southern Watch,” Morris said.

He spent 20 years serving in the US Air Force. At night, his sketch book was there – and still is.

“I’m able to draw, or paint, or chalk and be able to just take all the worries and everything that happened through out the day and it goes away and I can zone out into my own little world,” said Morris.

Over the years, many people have asked him to draw portraits of loved ones who served.

“I know it brings a lot of warmth to the people who get them. It is their family members, a lot of them are fallen soldiers and it just helps that healing process,” he said.

Recently, he’s finished a very special portrait.

A year ago, he met U.S. Army veteran Mack Macksam, the founder of Veterans Art Center Tampa Bay.

He asked Brian to draw a portrait of U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Ryan Knauss as a gift to his mother.

“I was just shocked and stunned and overwhelmed by her loss, her anger, her rage. Just something that has stuck in my mind,” Macksam said.

Veterans Art Center Tampa Bay has been around almost a decade.

It’s all about mental health healing and suicide prevention, not just for service members, but also their loved ones.

“I hope that this portrait would be a part of her healing,” Macksam said.

“I am humbled and honored to have this opportunity and I hope this hangs in her house for eternity and she enjoys it and it brings good memories to her,” said Morris.

On Tuesday night, Veterans Art Center Tampa Bay and artist Brian Morris will present the portrait to Ryan’s mother as part of a larger presentation at Seminole City Hall at 6p.m.