Don’t ask, don’t tell. That has been the Armed forces policy regarding their personnel. It usually refers to the sexual preferences of the soldiers, but sometimes, it goes beyond that. The media isn’t helping either, portraying soldiers either as heroes or jack-booted bad guys. The truth of the matter is that soldiers are just people too, forced to live a double life. In uniform, they are every bit a soldier – tough as nails and ready for action. It’s when they come home that they lead totally different lives – as civilians who love, lie, and live.
Devin Mitchell is a gifted photographer whose series “The Veteran Art Project” examines what lies on the other side of the uniform. With the liberal use of Photoshop, Devin has managed to create an deep inside look at the lives of some uniformed servicemen and women. Each photo has them looking a mirror reflecting who they really are. In some instances, it’s the direct opposite, with the mirror reflecting who they are when they’re in uniform.
Some of them are just dressed-up versions of themselves, sporting a suit or a dress instead of camouflage. Others tell touching stories like Mylee, who has one daughter and is a breast cancer survivor; Jennifer, who happens to be a single mother and whose son has autism; couple Shamar and Jennifer Hope who are both uniformed personnel and were simultaneously deployed three times – leaving behind their daughter, Rachel. Perhaps most jarring of all are the images of Patrick hugging his husband Joshua in front of the mirror showing Patrick in full dress uniform. Another shows Claude – a Marine Corpsman licking his rifle in the mirror while wearing a a wig and a rather fetching red dress.
According to an interview with Devin, “The military community has expressed their interest in using my art to communicate how many of them feel to be living double lives while serving in the military.”
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