The people I photographed did not survive what happened to them on the combat fields of the American wars in the last 50 years. This project is about veterans, who still battle with their combat memories; survive without being heroes and whose life is a lesson for future generation politics. Around one-fourth of all homeless Americans are veterans, and more than 75 percent of them have some sort of mental or substance abuse problem, often PTSD, according to the Homeless Veterans coalition.
Nearly 300,000 veterans are homeless on any given night in USA, and almost half of them served during the Vietnam era, according to the Homeless Veterans coalition. One third of returning members from Iraq service were diagnosed with a mental disorder, according to the VA or met screening criteria for major depression, generalized anxiety disorder or PTSD. While some experts have questioned the degree to which mental trauma from combat causes homelessness, a large number of veterans live with the long-term effects of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and substance abuse according to the coalition. I started working on this project, related with the similarity in a combat experience in Vietnam and Iraq as well as the peace experience after veteran’s homecoming. For me to show what happened with the Vietnam era veterans, even 40 years after the end of the war was one of the ways to ring the bell what could happen with the returning from Iraq and Afghanistan soldiers. The research I did led me to the Black Veterans for Social Justice Coalition – private, nonprofit organization, created to help by providing mental health support groups, as well as roof for those who are homeless. I started visiting the Groups for mental health support in Brooklyn and Manhattan to become familiar with their participants. Most of the veterans implicated in the groups were people who still suffered from their combat memories which caused them PTSD, general anxiety disorder or substance abuse and homelessness as a result. After a few visits I proposed to them to be photographed for my project „The endless war at home“ about homeless veterans from different US wars. While the Vietnam era veterans were ready to be photographed and talk about their war and post war experience the Iraqi veterans were very much ashamed of the situation they found themselves after their return home.