Wars never really end, because even though they may finish on the battlefield, many veterans bring the war back home and are forced to live with them for the rest of their lives.
This sad and sobering truth is highlighted by Photographers like David Jay and James Nachtwey, who have been documenting young and badly wounded American soldiers following their return home from wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“I have been a witness, and these pictures are my testimony. The events I have recorded should not be forgotten and must not be repeated,” writes Nachtwey, while Jay’s project, compiled into a series called Unknown Soldier, was a finalist in the Portrait category for the Magnum Photography Awards 2016.
Talking about his pictures, Jay wrote that they present “an opportunity to open a dialogue about issues we are not necessarily comfortable with…and also issues that we are responsible for. The images can be uncomfortable for the viewer. It forces us to confront our fears and inhibitions about life, death, sexuality, sickness, relationships, etc. Reality is not always pretty. This is reality. Let’s address it.”
#1 Bobby Henline
Bobby Henline was trapped inside a transport when he was hit by a roadside bomb in Iraq. He was the only survivor.
#2 Nicholas John Vogt
On November 12, 2011, army first lieutenant Nicholas was severely injured by an IED while on a foot-patrol in Panjwaii, Afghanistan. After asking Nicholas for his permission to post these images, this was his response: “The only thing that I want to pass on is this: Losing limbs is like losing a good friend. We wish we could still be with them, but it wasn't 'in the cards'. Then we... Read More
On November 12, 2011, army first lieutenant Nicholas was severely injured by an IED while on a foot-patrol in Panjwaii, Afghanistan. After asking Nicholas for his permission to post these images, this was his response: “The only thing that I want to pass on is this: Losing limbs is like losing a good friend. We wish we could still be with them, but it wasn't 'in the cards'. Then we get up, remember the good times, and thank God for whatever we have left. “
#3 Tomas Young
Tomas Young enlisted in the army two days after the 2001 September 11th attacks. Five days after being sent to Iraq, he was shot in the spine while riding in an unarmored vehicle in Sadr City, leaving him paralyzed. He died in 2014 (about a year and a half after this photo was taken) due to complications from his injuries.
#4 Jerral Hancock
Jerral Hancock was driving a tank in Iraq. A roadside bomb pierced the armor, breaching the interior. Jarral lives in Lancaster with his two, beautiful children.
#5 Jason Pak
First Lieutenant Jason Pak On Dec. 13, 2012 was on a foot patrol in Zangabad, Afghanistan when an IED exploded. The blast took Jason's legs (and part of his hand) but it could not take his spirit .
#6 Cedric King
Cedric King lost both of his legs to an IED in Afghanistan. His daughters talked him into trying swimming, and from there he finished the 2014 Boston Marathon in just over six hours; completed a Half Ironman race, and the New York City marathon. He is also a motivational speaker.
#7 Bobby Bernier
Bobby was hit by incoming artillery, sustaining burns over 60% of his body. He is pictured here with his daughter Layla
#8 Spc. Marissa Strock
Marissa Strock was injured when her vehicle was struck by an IED buried in the road. She was 20 years old.
#9 Matt Smith
On June 8, 2013, in Paktika Province, Afghanistan, Major Matt was shot along with five others by a member of the Afghan National Army. The bullet severed his femoral artery resulting in the amputation of his leg.
#10 Shilo Harris
SSG Shilo Harris lives in Houston. Shilo was severely burned on February 19th, 2007 by a road side bomb estimated at 700 lbs. He lost three men out of a crew of 5. Only Shilo and his driver survived the blast.