Kansas Exposed to Service-Member Trauma
Kansas Exposed to Service-Member Trauma
By William Stewart-Starks / ivaw.org
Feb 13, 2011

Operation Exposure Kansas

Will Stewart-Starks, an Iraq Veteran and member of Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) gives an audience of Lawrence art enthusiasts and local activists a summary of his organizations recent campaign to address military deployments of wounded soldiers.

Art show introduces Lawrence community to Operation Recovery Campaign

February 12, 2011, Lawrence, KS -- Iraq Veterans delivered a hopeful message to a crowd of art patrons at the Lawrence Percolator Friday night as part of an outreach effort to bring awareness to the deployment of traumatized troops.  The show was a call to action, developed by a collaboration between the Just Seeds Cooperative, a Chicago based art group and Iraq Veterans Against the War.  It informs a Veteran led campaign called Operation Recovery, which intends to stop the deployment of troops suffering from a list of signature wounds of the current war on terror, including military sexual trauma (MST), traumatic brain injury (TBI), and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).  It is the conviction of these Vets that soldiers have the right to heal and that right is being consistently denied at this time.

Operation_Exposure_Kansas_413.JPG

The Percolator just ended a show this month that featured  work from the Just Seeds Cooperative in celebration of  peoples history.  Dave Lowenstein, a Lawrence artist and a member of the board for  the space said, "that it was a coincidence that both of these  things came together", as the work continued the narrative of  art that inspired action.  It gives a modern context to the work of  activists that came before.

The images tell the story of men and women who have been affected by trauma only to be ordered to serve in combat zones.  Many highlight soldiers who have chosen to resist and opt for punishments for their decision in order to prevent themselves from compounding their untreated conditions. Specialist Suzanne Switf, who was sexually assaulted by her command is one such person that can be found amongst the prints.  The piece recounts her statements after deciding that she would not deploy with her unit.

" I said, "I can’t do it. I can’t go." I looked at my mom and I told her, I was like, "I can’t go." And she said, "Seriously?" And I was like, "I just can’t do it." I just felt—my heart was pounding, and I felt like I was just frozen. I think I kind of stuttered when I said, "I can’t do it." It was hard to get words out." --Spc. Suzanne Swift 

Operation Exposure Lawrence Percolator

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

Aaron Hughes talks about service members right to heal

Aaron Hughes, a field organizer for IVAW, who brought the series to Kansas from Chicago, talked about his own experience as a truck driver in Iraq who saw the humanitarian work that he was expecting to accomplish unfulfilled for the duration of his time in theatre. "The same kids that I saw on the streets when I arrived were still there when I left". He recalled his commanding officer crying as they were leaving at the end of his deployment, wondering "all this time, what they had done." To a captivated audience he discussed the importance of the Operation Recovery campaign and the art of Operation Exposure in bringing these stories to a broader audience.  Hughes, expects the work to continue to travel across the country and be used to engage more people as it has been shown in Chicago, Philadelphia, and Killeen, TX.  The series already has a scheduled stop in Minnesota later this month.

Many patrons were encouraged by the ambitious efforts of both the art and the veterans campaign to bring the cost to soldiers health to the forefront of public debate.  Courtney Ducharme, a student at the University of Kansas in Lawrence said, "It was inspiring!"  She suggested that people "Sign the petition and get involved in upcoming events around the subject." She noted an upcoming fundraiser for the campaign happening in Topeka in two weeks where more collaborative work between Vets and artists would be happening. The event concluded with attendees signing a petition to support the campaign and conversations about ways the local community could get involved in town and at the base at Ft. Riley.                                                                                                                                         Operation_Exposure_Kansas_411.JPG

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brian Wolfe a local member of IVAW said some words about his own experience with the military and how they typically deal with troops with trauma such as PTSD.  Wolfe cited that often the solution of Veteran Affairs(VA) administrators is to give patients pills in response to requests for help.  Wolfe said, "When the first drug did not work to resolve my problem they [the VA] did not hesitate to give me a second one."  He went on to say that he was prescribed four different medications before finally seeking alternative care, "I decided, that's not the answer to take some drugs".  He is now getting therapy from a psychologist which he says is, "helping him far greater, but from an Army point of view it is more expensive to pay a psychologist to talk to you than it is to hand you a bottle of pills."

 Kansas Game Day, Operation Recovery, Wheat PasteGame Day Wheat Paste, Lawrence Kansas 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Will Stewart-Starks is optimistic about the future of  winning  service-members right to heal.  He calls Operation Exposure, "a  creative tactic to  present  the issue" and that it is part of the organizations outreach  drive to turn more on to the campaign. An artist  himself,  he describes the series as "poignant in its use of  screen printing design traditionally used to express peoples-issue advocacy. It really inspired people to get involved in the work, at the grassroots level and build  momentum."  

Although traditionally art exhibits tend to  stay in the confines of an indoor space, it is only natural  that Operation Exposure finds its way to the streets. As the show travels it leaves its mark. This image by Matt  Howard, of  a  soldier's silhouette accompanied by a  poem about PTSD  remains behind to continue to expose audiences to the  growing need for adequate Veteran mental health as conflict rages on.  Another piece hauntingly proclaims, "War is trauma." Similarly, Operation Recovery will persist in its pursuit to prevent further damage to be done to these Veterans' wounded brothers and sisters.  

For more information about this campaign visit www.ivaw.org/operation-recovery

Operation_Exposure_Kansas_426.JPG

4.6 ·
4
Trending Today
Globalization Makes No Sense
Chris Agnos · 10,329 views today · When I lived in San Francisco, I often would marvel at the movement of goods through the ports across the bay in Oakland. Full container ships would enter the bay one after...
Proof of Evolution That You Can Find on Your Body
4 min · 7,418 views today · Vestigial structures are evolution's leftovers — body parts that, through inheritance, have outlived the context in which they arose. Some of the most delightful reminders of...
DAPL Opponents Vow to 'Rise' From Ashes of Oceti Sakowin and Keep Fighting
Lauren McCauley · 3,434 views today · 'They cannot extinguish the fire that Standing Rock started,' Dallas Goldtooth declared
Those That Did Not Seek Revenge
Dr. Ann Russo · 2,279 views today · Dr. Ann Russo on violence, healing, and transforming justice.
Stunning Small Homes Form Part of a Communal Compound for Best Friends
Lighter Side · 1,405 views today · If you’re lucky enough to have longtime friends even as an adult, then you know probably already know how much it means to be able to spend time together. Maybe you even have a...
How a Lack of Touch Is Destroying Men
Mark Green · 1,263 views today · Why Men Need More Platonic Touch in their Lives
The Foiled Bomb Plot in Kansas That Didn't Make Trump's Terror List
5 min · 1,220 views today · When a plot by a pro-white militia to bomb a Somali mosque in Kansas was foiled by the FBI last October, the aborted conspiracy received little national coverage - nor did it...
Michael Moore Wants to Help You Find Your Next Anti-Trump Protest
Sarah Ruiz-Grossman · 1,121 views today · The Resistance Calendar lists upcoming rallies across the country.
Without Saying a Word This 6 Minute Clip From Samsara Will Make You Speechless
6 min · 1,082 views today · Can you put this video into words? It's a clip from the phenomenal documentary Samsara, directed by Ron Fricke, who also made Baraka.  If you're interested in watching...
Where the Term "Redneck" Came From
15 min · 1,063 views today · If you don't know this story, you'll never look at the word the same again.  This is just a window into the sometimes shocking, subversive and untold history of the United...
The Most Astounding Fact about the Universe
3 min · 855 views today · This is Neil Degrasse Tyson's response when asked to describe the most astounding fact about the universe. Background music is the cinematic orchestra - To build a home.
To Change Everything, Start Everywhere
8 min · 818 views today · To Change Everything, Start Everywhere! The case for complete self-determination—a guide for the furious, the curious, and the pure of heart. To Change Everything: An...
John Lennon's "Imagine," Made Into a Comic Strip
John Lennon. Art by Pablo Stanley · 793 views today · This is easily the best comic strip ever made.  Pabl
Transition From Caterpillar to Butterfly as Analogy for Social Change
4 min · 729 views today · An exceprt from Crossroads: Labor Pains of a New Worldview in which Dr. Bruce Lipton talks about the fractal nature of reality and compares the current global awakening and the...
How Norway Avoided Becoming a Fascist State
George Lakey · 676 views today · Instead of falling to the Nazi party, Norway broke through to a social democracy. Their history shows us polarization is nothing to despair over.
Your Lifestyle Has Already Been Designed (The Real Reason For The Forty-Hour Workweek)
David Cain · 654 views today · Well I’m in the working world again. I’ve found myself a well-paying gig in the engineering industry, and life finally feels like it’s returning to normal after my nine months...
10 Words Every Girl Should Learn
Soraya Chemaly · 588 views today · "Stop interrupting me."  "I just said that." "No explanation needed." In fifth grade, I won the school courtesy prize. In other words, I won an award for being polite. My...
From Sanctuary City to Liberated City
Frank Lara · 573 views today · In just one week, with several strokes of a pen, Trump unleashed upon the working class in the U.S. an attack not seen in decades. From his attack on the flawed Affordable Care...
Today I Rise: This Beautiful Short Film Is Like a Love Poem For Your Heart and Soul
4 min · 454 views today · "The world is missing what I am ready to give: My Wisdom, My Sweetness, My Love and My hunger for Peace." "Where are you? Where are you, little girl with broken wings but full...
How Wolves Change Rivers
4 min · 450 views today · When wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park in the United States after being absent nearly 70 years, the most remarkable "trophic cascade" occurred. What is a...
Load More
What's Next
Like us on Facebook?
Kansas Exposed to Service-Member Trauma