The Veteran Vision Project Documents PTSD

Washington, DC

What does post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) look like?

If you are wondering, just visit the Veteran Vision Project (VVP) website.

The project illustrates many of the PTSD-related perils that men and women who join the U.S. military face in their attempt to merge into civilian life after their world-class service.


“A picture is worth a thousand words.” In the context of VVP, that popular maxim would be proven incorrect because a picture of PTSD is arguably impossible to quantify. It has to do more with the reaction and sentiment that come after seeing one.

It is safe to say that the “photo essay and study,” as the Los Angeles-based photographer behind it describes it, illustrate pain and sorrow.

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Devin Mitchell, who would rather refer to the project as an academic study, described the project to Breitbart News as a “photo essay and research effort about veterans and who they are before, during, and after military service.”

#100 U.S. Air Force Capt. Mark Harper

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Ultimately, Mitchell wants to put together “a compilation of aggregated data, collected from veterans that describe their military experience post 9/11.”

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The photo essay was originally intended to just capture ten photos to function as a visual aid for a reintegration-related senior thesis paper at Arizona State University.

It ended up developing into a viral social media campaign, which has piqued the interest of academic researchers.

There are nearly 160 images documented to date, all taken from members of the U.S. veteran community.

Military veterans themselves, as well as undergrad, graduate, and doctoral study scholars who specialize in the studies of social work, psychology, sociology, and statistics, are all involved in the advisory panels behind the project.

It all started with a picture taken of Lt. Ricky Engel Ryba in an August 2014 afternoon, according to Mitchell.

“The veterans have claimed that the photographs present a sort of medicinal, therapeutic value,” Mitchell told Breitbart News. “This feedback has been presented by both participants and audience members.”

Breitbart News’ very own Kelli Serio, a Navy veteran, participated in the study.

Kelli Serio, Veteran Vision Project

“I posed for the project because I feel that veterans’ suicide is a major epidemic. Any way I can lend my voice to make people aware of the plight of our veterans, I will take full advantage of,” said Serio.

“I want to let people know that it’s okay to admit their weaknesses and to reach out for help, whether a person is a veteran or a civilian,” she continued. “Veteran advocacy is actually a cause I’m very passionate about in my personal life, especially considering my four years of service.”

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“Overall, I hope to bring awareness to this issue and to be a part of the discussion to stop preventable suicide,” she concluded.

In the “study,” Mitchell features veterans like Serio looking into the mirror in their civilian clothes while the reflection shows them in uniform facing their internal demons and vice versa.

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Some veterans are featured in their military uniforms while the reflection shows them in civilian attire.

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While some pictures do show some veterans adjusting to life as civilians, along with their children, other emotionally loaded pictures show veterans struggling with PTSD and thoughts of suicide.

Follow Edwin Mora on Twitter: @EdwinMora83