PTSD photography exhibit focuses on veterans

A new photo exhibit focuses on those living with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, brain injuries, and companion dogs.

It's opening at a Phoenix art gallery and was put together by two former service members.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then each story told by these images is priceless, at least to Christopher O'Shana and Scott Johnson.

"It's an extremely personal thing that is going on with them, they're soldiers, they don't want people knowing they are sick or hurting inside," said Christopher O'Shana.

O'Shana is one of the photographers behind this moving exhibit, entitled "Stories of Their Sacrifices, PTSD."

"My side was extremely difficult because each of the veterans have different stories, whether it be from Denay here, who went through two tours of Iraq, and on her second tour was raped by an American soldier," said O'Shana.

The photos hang on the walls of the Bokeh Gallery on Roosevelt Street in Phoenix. 

"Some of these people have answered Craigslist ads, some of them are friends of mine, some of them I've been introduced to by the VFW or USO," he said.

Johnson, on the other hand, photographs soldiers upon graduation from a program called "Soldiers Best Friend" in Glendale. Soldiers who suffer from PTSD are paired with and train a service dog in an effort to relieve their pain.

"The veterans are sometimes camera-shy, I have to talk to them and tell them I'm a veteran, I did 23 years in the Army, I have PTSD, I have a brain injury as well, I just want you to focus on your dog," said Scott Johnson.

"You can see the benefits of how this program is helping veterans live their daily lives in a better and positive way, with the help of a therapy animal," said Johnson.

"A show like this is extremely important; these guys need to have the awareness out there, the money, the funding, the awareness for PTSD," he said.

O'Shana is a Navy veteran himself. He's taken pictures of 16 veterans since he started the project two years ago. But he says there is always one more picture to take, one more veteran to help.

The exhibit runs through Friday, June 26 at the Bokeh Gallery on Roosevelt.
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