A collaborative photo and oral history project about the trials of homecoming by Jim Lommasson and returning veterans from the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars. Exit Wounds is a traveling exhibition and book project.
“The soldier above all others prays for peace,
for it is the soldier who must suffer and bear the deepest wounds and scars of war.”
As a society, we need to understand that a consequence of sending soldiers to war is that the war comes home with every veteran. Exit Wounds: Life After War - Soldiers' Stories deals with the effects of the United States’ wars in Iraq and Afghanistan by focusing – in photographs and interviews -- on returning American soldiers as they reintegrate into civilian life. It is an ongoing collaborative effort, documenting in images and words the personal experiences and stories of these veterans. In addition to their own experiences, they bring home first-hand knowledge of the impact of war on the civilians caught in the crossfire. The soldiers need to tell their stories, and we need to hear them. We must know the true consequences of their – of our -- actions. We must take responsibility for the aftermath of the war in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as at home.
If you are interested in participating, or want more information please contact Jim Lommasson email: firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: 503.939.1939
Jim Lommasson's Exit Wounds is not about art. It's not about politics or journalism either. It's about raw human experience: The suffering, the triumphs, the fear, the pride, the visceral truths that confront every individual touched by the violence of war. – Megan Driscol, PORT
Lommasson said he didn't want to construct a political statement for or against the current wars. He wanted to listen to veterans who served. And so, veterans began to sit down with him. They are loving parents; bright, ambitious students; or impassioned veteran advocates, despite their own wounds. – Julie Sullivan, The Oregonian
Lommasson experienced the heartbreaking and profound stories directly from the soldiers themselves. The American public has been allowed to function without much awareness of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. We have been told to just go shop.' – Dahr Jamail, Author of Beyond the Green Zone: Dispatches from an Unembedded Journalist in Occupied Iraq.
Exit Wounds: Life After War: Soldiers' Stories is a subtle meditation on the intimate experience of war. Lommasson illustrates through images, stories and reflections the singular truth that war, beyond a political or economic event, is an experience, and as any experience, as infinitely varied and idiosyncratic as the individuals who experience it. – Jonathan Wei, The Telling Project
Jim Lommasson is a recipient of The Dorothea Lange - Paul Taylor Prize from The Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University.
During The Battle of the Bulge, the bloodiest battle that U.S. forces experienced in World War II, a young American soldier stationed with his combat battalion in France, sickened from sleeping in wet and muddy foxholes next to the corpses of his friends and eating rancid food, determined he required a vacation. He left his regiment without orders or permission, and hiked into German occupied Nancy, France, where he rested and quietly swam in the municipal pool. A sign read, “Nur Offizier” (Officers Only). Two weeks later, the weary Battle of the Bulge survivor walked back through enemy territory to resume his position on the front lines. The soldier had been awarded three purple hearts and a bronze star, but his acts of courage did not sway his superiors from arresting the AWOL soldier, and after serving in combat for the remainder of the war, was later court martialed. This soldier was my father. As I was growing up, in the ‘50s and ‘60s, the stories he told were generic, and agreed with the choppy newsreels and movies I was raised on. His stories seemed to support the nobility of serving your country as a soldier and that it was right to fight in a war. When I approached eighteen in 1968, and the Vietnam War was raging, my dad was dead set against sending me to war. He said, “The one thing that I learned from volunteering into the Army was, never volunteer for anything.” I got enough subtle messages over the years that maybe war wasn't all it was cracked up to be. Before his death, more than sixty after the Battle of the Bulge, my father finally began sharing more intimate, painful wartime experiences, as we walked together around our North Portland neighborhood where we lived most of our lives. The walks were long even though the distances were short. His walker rattled and his feet barely cleared the cracks in the sidewalk as we ambled along. His memory ebbed and flowed, as past blurred with the present, and the new stories revealed a darker side of war. It's clear to me now the man who gave me everything he was capable of, did his best to spare me and everyone else the reality of war. After the war ended, his generation was told to "man-up," buy a house and pretend that nothing happened. Despite all he experienced, and the pain he was withholding, he was a loving, generous father. The war had always been with him privately, but at the end of his life he began to talk about what really happened at the Battle of the Bulge as we walked, as it faded into his fog of war. My father’s revelations gave me an idea about doing a soldiers' oral history of the current war in Iraq and Afghanistan. I feel that soldiers need to tell their stories and we need to hear them. The soldiers that I have been interviewing and photographing have been generous with their stories and intimate feelings. They have taught me what it is to descend into hell and then try to find their way home. Many of the details of my father’s experience are lost with him, but as I chronicle the lives of today’s young soldiers, their story is his story. I hope they can find their way out of the fog. Sixty years is way too long to keep a secret. --Jim lommasson