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Military Connection: Veterans Portrait Project: By Joe Silva

House of Love JewelrySome people say a picture is worth a thousand words. But for one Veteran, pictures mean so much more.

Photography is Air Force Veteran Stacy Pearsall’s gift, her passion and her therapy. Taking photographs has helped Pearsall recover from the wounds of war, and she’s sharing her gift with fellow Veterans.

Through the Veterans Portrait Project, more than 3,000 Veterans have had their portraits taken by Pearsall and have experienced their own form of healing. Pearsall is a nationally recognized photojournalist who’s been twice named Military Photographer of the Year by the National Press Photographers Association. She’s received the Bronze Star Medal for actions in combat, as well as the Daughters of the American Revolution Margaret Cochran Corbin Award for her work after the service. If that’s not enough, Pearsall was named a Champion of Change by the White House.

Pearsall founded the Veterans Portrait Project after being medically retired from the Air Force due to wounds she sustained in Iraq. After spending time at VA hospitals where she was treated for a traumatic brain injury and traumas to her neck and spine, Pearsall said she felt alienated from other Veterans, and often overlooked due to her age and gender. She said other Veterans thought she was there as a veteran’s caregiver or just visiting a family member.

Despite her frustration, Pearsall began to realize she had her own biases about what Veterans were supposed to look like. The more she talked to fellow Veterans, the more she realized each Veteran had their own personality, their own look, and their own unique story.

Pearsall began taking her camera to her medical appointments. She would talk to Veterans about their stories, and take portraits of them at the same time. Pearsall admits she began taking the portraits for her own therapeutic reasons, but eventually found each Veteran experienced their own recuperative properties as well. “I want the photos to tell the stories of Veterans as a slice of American culture,” Pearsall told Military Connection.

After a New York financier heard about Pearsall’s work, he connected her with USAA Financial Services Company. USAA decided to support Pearsall, and the Veterans Portrait Project, allowing the program to expand to 33 cities across the country over the last twelve months. Thanks to USAA’s continued support, the Veterans Portrait Project will tour 15 more cities in 2015.

When you look at the portraits posted on the Veterans Portrait Project website, it is evident each picture captures a unique quality about its subject, and offers an insight into their individual story. Pearsall said her intention is to have the portraits tell a story.

If you would like to help Pearsall reach more Veterans in other parts of the country, please consider making a donation through the follow the link: https://www.crowdrise.com/veteransportraitproject/fundraiser/stacypearsall

Pearsall also willing to coordinate and collaborate with any Veteran service organization or group interested in setting up a Veterans Portrait Project session for their members. Please contact Stacy Pearsall through the Project’s website at http://www.veteransportraitproject.com/

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Military Connection: Veterans Portrait Project: By Joe Silva