-22- has a goal of bringing greater awareness to the U.S. veteran suicide crisis. While the target demographic of the project are US combat veterans struggling with PTSD and suicidal feelings, the project overall is geared to have emotional and informational impact on their loved ones and the general public, in the hope of demystifying PTSD and what drives a veteran to suicide. It currently consists of a photo series, with a short film in post-production. Long term plans for the project include more photo documentaries and films, and extending it to include the First/Emergency Responder community (law enforcement, corrections, emergency medical services, firefighters, etc.).

-22- is the result of a photo idea from the mind of US Army SSG Scott Pretorius. SSG Pretorius, a decorated 18-year veteran Infantryman, served two combat tours in Afghanistan and knows firsthand the stress and trauma that combat veterans have been through. He also knows too well the struggles that many Soldiers face when returning from combat deployments, from the beauracracy of the Veterans Affairs system to broken homes.

-22- is a result of trying to capture and depict the internal struggles many combat veterans face in managing their PTSD and the stark reality that far too many of them struggle with suicidal thoughts. The difficulties that cause these struggles often leave veterans feeling lost and alone.

Nova Vox took on -22- with the goal of helping veterans struggling with PTSD and suicide find a new voice after they've returned from the battlefield--a voice that connects them to each other for the sake of each other, and connects them to the rest of their world, for the sake of themselves. This is an ongoing project with more elements in production and development, including a short film currently in post-production, and more photo shoots planned in the future.


Photo Series - War Internal

-Photos by Rob Salem. Copyright © 2017 Rob Salem/The Stormworks. For use or exhibit, please contact us.-
-Click on the images to view larger.-

In 2012, the US Department of Veteran's Affairs estimated that an average of 22 veterans committed suicide every day. Recent estimates place that number closer to 20 a day, and while that represents a decline, it is still 20 too many. From returning home the resilient warrior to the difficulties of reintegrating into civilian life, many combat veterans find themselves feeling isolated and trapped by a system that is ill-equipped to treat them properly or provide them with the support network necessary for survival and success outside of life in the military. Often, their best support network is each other, but stigmas placed on what it means to be a "warrior" means that many veterans don't reach out to their battle buddies or their loved ones when they need to the most.

SSG Pretorius hopes that this series of photos will serve the veteran community as a reminder to check up on each other--to "Call A Brother"--while also giving friends and families a tangible means of helping understand the demons that haunt many combat veterans.

Featured in the photos is SGT Mathieu Householder, a decorated veteran of the US Army Infantry. He has served two combat tours of duty: Operation Iraqi Freedom in Iraq in 2008 and Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan in 2010.



Resources

There are many resources available to veterans struggling with PTSD and suicide. The best line of a help a veteran can get is from other veterans. Sometimes all it takes is to do a commo check on each other. Other resources include, but are not limited to:

The above resources, which all refer back to the Suicide Prevention Lifeline, are available not just to veterans, but anyone who wants to help vets through difficult times. Many such resources are underfunded and understaffed, but they are there for those who need them, and the people running them genuinely want to help. Many such organizations offer volunteer opportunities; if you're wanting to do more to help veterans, be sure to contact such organizations and find out what opportunities are available to you.