Originally published on Mon November 12, 2012 3:32 pm
As of July 2012, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs, there were more than 22 million veterans in America — roughly 7 percent of the country's population.
The last surviving veteran of World War I, Frank Buckles, died just last year at age 110. But many men and women at least a quarter of that age are returning from Iraq and Afghanistan every day.
Documentary photographer Ashlei Quinones' portrait series "Indivisible" shows a handful of these new veterans in various phases of reintegration to civilian life.
"The veterans of these wars have faced significant challenges upon their return home," she writes in our correspondence. "It was my intention to document various facets of this emotional transition."
To do that, Quinones encouraged the veterans to speak for themselves, in the form of a handwritten letter. Their words express pride and grief, hope and despair — conveying the ambivalence of what it must mean to fight a war, and to return home with those memories.
I asked Quinones why, with the exception of one person, she didn't include military ranks in the captions. In her words, she wants to make a distinction between military and civilian life. "I didn't want someone to be higher in the project," she says. "I wanted them all to be equal."
Sean M. Murphy
Sgt. Nelson Nolasco