The Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) project focuses on the deterioration and breakdown of places that once were pillars in our communities. These images show the current state of many VFW posts – in disrepair and decaying – symbolic to how we treat our veterans who return from war. We are losing the places that were once the support structure for veterans to overcome their war tragedies.
War veterans have a bond of silence, often only sharing stories among those who have served. Without camaraderie and support, these memories percolate and often cause anger, depression, sleeplessness, and many other symptoms that can lead to suicide. Every day in America we lose an average of 20 veterans to suicide (increasing from 16 per day in 2005). I believe that as posts disappear, suicide rates will continue to increase.
I hope this project will help create a national conversation about what we can all do to provide more support for our veterans, especially those who need mental health care and are not currently receiving it. The social fabric of veterans has suffered, reflected by the decline in VFWs at a time when America has been in continuous wars for almost 20 years. The story of these posts is the story of America.