ArtPrize Photos Reveal ‘Costs of War’ Paid by Veterans

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) – A US Marine Corps veteran uses her love of photography to share the war costs that veterans continue to pay after the war is over.

Sarah Anderson, a native of Grand Haven, served in the US Marine Corps from 2009 to 2016. During her service, she worked in the Public Affairs Bureau and fell in love with storytelling through photography. After the military, she attended Grand Valley State University and explored the artistic side of photography.

“That’s when I started experimenting and realized it’s just another art form,” she said.

The first time art prize The contestant submitted a three-part photo series entitled “The Cost of War,” which uses long exposures to capture trails of light only the cameras can see. She compared it to the invisible wounds suffered by veterans.

“Once a war is over, the pain and hurt, even moral hurt, don’t stop. They carry on and I believe it is our responsibility to care for these veterans who have sacrificed so much for this war. Whether we won or not, there is an effect, there is a cost. It’s not always financial,” Anderson said. “We have to watch out for these issues and take care of them because they answered a call, they signed a blank check, they gave it to America and they said, ‘I’m going to pay all expenses, including up to and including my life.'”

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The first of the three photos shows the prescription of medication.

“One veteran I know was prescribed eight new drugs in one week,” Anderson said. “…A lot of them just had to deal with symptoms of problems he was having or symptoms of other pills he was taking. This is not a unique story for him. That is quite common.”

The second photo shows psychological problems in veterans.

“(It’s) an invisible wound where you can just about see a veteran standing by a window, but inside they collapse. They almost have a breach of their identity. You are alone,’ she said.

The Veterans of Foreign Wars Department of Michigan public relations and development coordinator said that when a veteran leaves the service, he loses his community. It can cause depression, anxiety and confusion when they return to civilian life.

The third photo ends with hope, Anderson said.

“We essentially lost (the war in Afghanistan, but) there is still a warrior in us. We can get up. It’s more of a hope that we won’t be defeated in all of this,” she said.

The Cost of War is on view at Veterans Memorial Park during ArtPrize, an international art competition running through October 2nd in Grand Rapids. ArtPrize Photos Reveal 'Costs of War' Paid by Veterans

Dais Johnston

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