During an interview for a documentary focusing on veterans coping with post-traumatic stress disorder, Lalage Snow, a war photographer, discusses her collection of triptych portraits featuring soldiers. Each triptych consists of three photos, taken before, during, and after their deployment in Afghanistan. As you analyze the images, you begin to search for the psychological wounds etched into their exhausted and gaunt faces. In some of the “after” pictures, it is as though the war has completely altered them. Their facial features appear subtly but noticeably different, with tense muscles and hardened or softened expressions. Snow’s work is truly remarkable.
Snow always had a desire to return and take photos of the soldiers ten years after the war, but she has not been successful in getting financial support. Instead, she is featured in Kate Blewett’s direct and sympathetic documentary that follows three veterans dealing with PTSD. None of them are included in Snow’s previous work. One of the veterans, Amber, joined the military at 16 after experiencing domestic violence and sexual abuse during her childhood. Her emotional vulnerability and honesty are commendable, but at times, difficult to witness. Former Royal Marine sniper Stuart is attempting to row solo across the Atlantic for the second time. He hopes to show that PTSD does not have to limit a person. For him, it is a form of therapy to keep his inner demons at bay. When Blewett asks him about the impact of being a sniper, he remains guarded and refuses to elaborate. This raises questions about potential trauma he may be avoiding.
I met Ryan, a former marine from the US who is now a member of Vetpaw, an organization of veterans dedicated to safeguarding wildlife in Africa. Many people may think of them as reckless and aggressive individuals, but Ryan explains that their experiences with death have made them more cautious. Being a part of Vetpaw has given him a sense of camaraderie similar to what he had in the marines. In his home country, he was tired of receiving pity and being bombarded with questions. He has no desire to readapt to society, stating that it is not a welcoming place.