I grew up on Cape Cod. It is my home and my safe haven. Every chance I get to go home I am on that flight. Currently I live in Navarre, Florida and my life is so different from my days on the cape.
I became a mom at the age of 19 to a beautiful little girl named Delanie. She was my world, my everything, and I gladly gave up everything that normal 19 year olds did to take care of her beautiful self and protect her from the harms of this world.
Little did I know, the craziness that the world was carrying was going to take me away from her. In November of 2003 I was called to war. I was sent away from my then 18 month old daughter to go fight in a war that I never thought I would be a part of. I had to bring her to my parents in Florida where she would stay during my entire deployment.
I was an Army Medic. I was deployed to Baghdad, Iraq in 2003. While I was there I was pulled from my Battalion and attached to a group of soldiers that ran security missions all around the country, but mostly in Baghdad. I also did a rotation at the 31st CSH at the Green Zone in the heart of Baghdad while there was extremely heavy activity in the city. It was a long and tiring deployment.
When I came home from Iraq things were very different for me. My family life was not the same. It was very hard to connect with my daughter and my parents. I knew something was wrong but had no clue. I tried to be mom again but it just didn’t work out the way I thought it would. I then asked my parents to take her back for because both her and I had major adjustment issues. She stayed with them for another 6 months until I met my husband and he helped me get on my feet enough to be a good solid mother to her again. After a few years of struggling to live a normal life and hold a job like a normal civilian I decided to seek help. That is when I found out I had PTSD. It was a pretty hard thing to swallow. I still hate it, but deal with it the best that I can. It definitely holds me back with a lot of things in my life but I am NOW determined to fight back!!!
I have been a photographer for as long as I can remember. Photography is my release. It is my healing tool. Every time I grab my camera it is almost as if my PTSD doesn’t exist, even if only for a short period of time. My PTSD will never go away, but I believe that I have found something that helps me find solace in my chaotic life.
I know first hand how very hard it is to talk about why I have PTSD. I always just tell people it is from my deployment. My goal is to reach out to other veterans with PTSD, and through my photography, tell their stories and hopefully help them heal some along the way. I am currently working on a photographic book about the emotions that PTSD brings up in Veterans.
I already have many Veterans with PTSD that I have spoken to that are 100% willing to participate as they trust that another Veteran with PTSD will be honest and real with their stories. I have many interviews done already, and a few in the works as we speak. Although, I do need about 100 total Veterans to make a full book.
Funding this project will bring light to an unspoken problem with today’s veterans, including myself, and hopefully will reach other veterans not in participation to see that it is ok to share our stories, no matter how it’s told. The funds will go towards buying materials needed to accomplish each shot, travel to get to each location for each shot, any necessary equipment, spec books so that I can show them to publishers (or even self publish), and any other production related costs.
If you feel that you would like to support this project please click on the link provided in this post and donate. It will not only help get this project rolling but it could potentially help many other veterans with PTSD along the way!!
You can check out my work at: www.melissajthurber.com
If you would like to make a donation to support this book: www.gofundme.com/fundingforptsdbook