Art is self-expression, self-exploration and often self-healing. This healing becomes more powerful when a community unites to create something beautiful, lasting and deeply meaningful. Elder Heart & Mission 22 are doing just that – uniting communities through artistic expression in order to heal the wounds and save the lives of the men and women who voluntarily subjected themselves to the horrors of war in order to shield a nation from tragedy.
To illustrate the dangers facing veterans returning home David Guttenfelder, a war photographer, took his camera to a new battlefield. After spending two decades photographing war torn countries such as the Congo, Kosovo, Gaza, Liberia, Iraq and Afghanistan, Guttenfelder visited the places where more American service members die than on any other battlefield – their own homes. A devastating 22 veterans commit suicide every day. This means we are now losing more of our nation’s heroes at home than we are on the battlefield. This must stop. And Elder Heart & Mission 22 are answering the call.
They are accomplishing this goal through individual community engagement resulting in public works of art. During this process an Elder Heart Chapter brings together veterans, community members, artists and local politicians to engage in a unified effort to complete a project that not only builds the foundation of long-term healing through relationships and teamwork, but also creates a lasting monument that this community is taking a stand to support and fight for their veterans at home.
Elder Heart’s Mission 22 takes the fight to a national level by using social media to promote awareness and create a national support network. They invite us all to “claim a 22” by taking a picture of 22, found anywhere, and posting it on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram with #Mi22ion to show our vets we have their back. They also use Google Hangout sessions to connect veterans with other vets who are successfully battling PTS or TBI.
Finally, Elder Heart is currently in the planning stage of building a national monument to honor those who have become casualties of suicide. The monument will consist of a circle containing the silhouettes of 22 actual service members who have been lost to suicide. These silhouettes will appear and disappear with the sun as a reminder of the 22 lost each day.
Elder Heart & Mission 22 are on the front lines battling PTS, TBI and Veteran Suicide, but they need the support of individuals and communities to ensure our service members are safe in the home they sacrificed to preserve. You can learn how you can get involved in the links below. A community empowered to make home safe for their veterans, artistic expressions of support, hope and victory proudly displayed in public and veterans helping veterans through another difficult battle – these are the incredible outcomes of art created through Elder Heart & Mission 22.
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