My veteran husband’s struggle to get help after his last deployment with the army nearly killed us both. Literally. We were both pushed to the brink, considering suicide as a way out. We tried everything to heal from his post-traumatic stress (PTS) and other invisible injuries. I knew I hit rock bottom when on a graduate school trip to the Venice Biennale, I found myself staring into the gorgeous, romantic waters and thinking about letting myself drown. My husband’s 10-year battle had taken its toll on me; I had developed secondary post-traumatic stress (SPTS).
I started making art about this struggle and everything changed; art saved my life. I began sharing my struggle through painting, performance art and social projects on Instagram. Throughout my healing journey, I’ve leaned on photography as a place of comfort. Using the camera to find beauty among the chaos helps ease my anxiety. I force myself to go outside, travel and wander through unknown streets with my camera in hand to capture hidden paintings I find, like the ones in this series. Focusing on making something beautiful despite the chaos around me or in my head gives me strength to keep going. It’s my mission to continue making art not only for my own healing, but also to help other military families heal as well.
Sarah Dale is an artist, filmmaker and advocate for military families and veteran caregivers like herself. Sarah specializes in using her creative skills to continue her journey of healing from secondary post-traumatic stress, while helping other military families find healing as well through projects such as When War Comes Home, Flowers From the VA and more. Sarah holds an MFA from American University where she won a number of awards and scholarships for her unique work. Her work was most recently exhibited in the San Francisco Arts Commission show, Not Alone: Exploring Bonds Between and With Members of the Armed Forces, along with other nationally recognized artists from the veteran community. Her advocacy work has led her to collaborate with organizations such as Hope for the Warriors, Blue Star Families, REBOOT Combat Recovery and to start a new kind of advocacy organization, New Rosie.