GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A U.S. Marine Corps veteran is using her love of photography to share the cost of war that veterans pay even after the war ends.
Sarah Anderson, a Grand Haven native, served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 2009 to 2016. While serving, she worked in the public affairs office and fell in love with telling stories through photography. After the military, she attended Grand Valley State University and learned the artistic side of photography.
“That’s when I started experimenting and realizing that it’s just another form of art,” she said.
The first-time ArtPrize contestant entered a three-part photo series titled “The Cost of War” that uses long-exposure to capture light trails only the cameras can see. She compared it to the invisible wounds suffered by veterans.
“After a war ends, the pain and the injuries, even the moral injuries, don’t end. They continue and I believe that it’s our responsibility to take care of these veterans that sacrificed so much for this war. Whether we won or not, there is an effect, there is a cost. It’s not always financial,” Anderson said. “We need to pay attention to these issues and take care of them because they answered a call, they signed a blank check gave it to America and said, ‘I will pay any cost including up to and including my life.'”
The first of the three photos depicts the prescription of drugs.
“A veteran I know, in one week, was prescribed eight new drugs,” Anderson said. “…A lot of them just had to deal with symptoms of issues he had or symptoms of other pills he was taking. That isn’t a unique story to him. That is quite common.”
The second photo depicts mental health issues among veterans.
“(It’s) an invisible wound where you can just see a veteran standing by a window but inside, they’re breaking down. They have almost a fracturing of their identity. They’re alone,” she said.
The public relations and development coordinator for the Veterans of Foreign Wars Department of Michigan said that when a veteran leaves the service, they lose their community. It can cause depression, anxiety and confusion as they transition back to civilian life.
The third photo ends with hope, Anderson said.
“We essentially lost (the war in Afghanistan but) there is still a warrior inside of us. We can rise. It’s more of a hope that we are not defeated in all of this,” she said.
“The Cost of War” can be seen at the Veterans Memorial Park during ArtPrize, an international art competition that takes place in Grand Rapids through Oct. 2.