+
upworthy
Joy

10 photos of seriously wounded vets remind us about the real costs of war.

Their wounds belong to all of us.

democracy, justice, wounded veterans, documentation, portraits
Image by David Jay/ David Jay Photography.

Maj, Matt Smith at Walter Reed Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland.


Photographer David Jay specializes in fashion and beauty, stuff that's "beautiful and sexy — and completely untrue," as he puts it. But that's not all he photographs.

Three years ago, Jay began to take pictures of young, severely wounded soldiers returning home from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Trigger warning: These portraits don't shy away from wounded bodies.


Be prepared. I found them shocking at first. But keep looking. The more I looked, the more beauty and humanity I found reflected here. (The photo captions are from the Jay's Unknown Soldier Project Facebook page. All images used with permission.)

military, body image, disabilities

Lt. Nicholas John Vogt, U.S. Army

Image by David Jay/ David Jay Photography.

This is 1st Lt. Nicholas John Vogt, U.S. Army. On Nov. 12, 2011, he was severely injured by an IED while on a foot-patrol in Panjwaii, Afghanistan. We took these pictures this past weekend in the swimming pool at Walter Reed Medical Center. I asked Nicholas for his permission to post these images and this was his response: "The only thing that I want to pass on is this: Losing limbs is like losing a good friend. We wish we could still be with them, but it wasn't 'in the cards.' Then we get up, remember the good times, and thank God for whatever we have left." Image by David Jay/ David Jay Photography. All images used with permission.

In a National Public Radio interview about his project, Jay said, "You can imagine how many times each of these men and women have heard a parent tell their child, 'Don't look. Don't stare at him. That's rude.'"

"I take these pictures so that we can look; we can see what we're not supposed to see. And we need to see them because we created them." — David Jay
photography, mental health, veteran rights

Taking a swim.

Image by David Jay/ David Jay Photography.

Jay wants us to see, to become even a little familiar with the tragic loss of limbs and burned skin of wounded vets — his portraits are 4 feet wide — but he also wants us to see them as people and to think about their experiences and those of people in their lives.

health, David Jay, The Unknown Soldier

Bobby Bernier with daughter Layla.

Image by David Jay/ David Jay Photography.

This past week, I went to San Antonio, Texas. There I had the privilege of photographing both Daniel Burgess and Bobby Bernier. They are friends. Daniel stepped on a IED, losing one leg and destroying the other. Bobby was hit by incoming artillery, sustaining burns over 60% of his body. He is pictured here with his daughter Layla.

IED, Maj. Matt Smith, Afghanistan

Maj, Matt Smith at Walter Reed Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland.

Image by David Jay/ David Jay Photography.

This is Maj. Matt Smith. This past week, Matt allowed me to photograph him in his room at the Walter Reed Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland. Less than three months ago, on June 8, 2013, in Paktika province, Afghanistan, Matt was shot along with five others by a member of the Afghan National Army. The bullet severed his femoral artery, resulting in the amputation of his leg. A private and soulful man, it was an honor to photograph him. Thank you, Maj. Smith.

disabled, war, amputee

Spc. Marissa Stock injured by an IED.

Image by David Jay/David Jay Photography.

burn victim, roadside bomb, survivor

Jerral Hancock survived a roadside bomb.

Image by David Jay/ David Jay Photography.

This is Jerral Hancock. He was driving a tank in Iraq. A roadside bomb pierced the armor, breaching the interior. We shot these pics two weeks ago at his home in Lancaster, California, where Jarral lives with his two beautiful children. We ended up hanging out into the night, smokin' ciggys ... so I kept taking pictures.

"To the men and women of The Unknown Soldier, I can't thank you enough for your courage and sacrifice ... both on and off the battlefield. It is an honor to photograph you." — David Jay
swimming, photography, internal injuries, Airborne Ranger

SFC Cedric King floats in the pool.

Image by David Jay/David Jay Photography.

On July 25, 2012, SFC Cedric King, an Airborne Ranger, was severely injured by an IED while serving his country in Afghanistan. Due to the explosion, Cedric sustained a multitude of internal and external injuries, losing both his legs. Cedric was doing his laps while I was photographing 1st Lt. Nicholas Vogt in the pool at Walter Reed Medical Center last week. Cedric kept watching, so I had to ask. Cedric said, “That man (Nicholas) doesn't know it, but he changed my life. There was a point when I was so down that I thought I couldn't go on. And then one day I saw him swimming ... and I just thought, wow ... if he can go on like that, then I can go on too." Cedric will also change people's lives. Already has.

Marine, foot-patrol, Afghan Army

Michael Fox, 27-year-old Marine.

Image by David Jay/David Jay Photography.

This is Michael Fox, a 27-year-old Marine and an amazing man. On Nov. 15, 2011, Michael was on foot-patrol in the Helmand province of Afghanistan. His is the first picture of "The Unknown Soldier."

The SCAR Project, battle-scarred, therapy

Staff Sgt. Shilo Harris in Houston, Texas.

Image by David Jay/David Jay Photography.

This past weekend, I photographed Staff Sgt. Shilo Harris in Houston, Texas. He came up from San Antonio to see one of my other exhibitions, The SCAR Project (www.thescarproject.org). Shilo was severely burned on Feb. 19, 2007, by a roadside bomb estimated at 700 pounds. He lost three men out of a crew of five. Only Shilo and his driver survived the blast. Shilo has a book coming out soon. He is truly an amazing man, and I am honored to call him a friend.

"The Unknown Soldier is about neither war or politics ... but rather something infinitely simpler and more powerful." — David Jay
healing, medicine, remedy, hope

Thomas Young in Kansas City, MO.

Image by David Jay/ David Jay Photography.

The Library of Congress has acquired images from Jay's The Unknown Soldier project as part of its documentation of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. This speaks to the power of these images in capturing war's aftermath. But they are so much more than documentation.

Pictures like these help those of us who remain at home to begin to comprehend the true human cost of war.


This article originally appeared on 05.31.15

Double H Canine Academy in Louisville, Kentucky is a place where dog owners can take their rambunctious pets and have them turned into respectable members of the family.

However, as you can tell in this hilarious video, not all dogs are meant to follow orders.

Keep ReadingShow less

Julia Roberts and Emma Roberts

Actress Julia Roberts was late to the game when it came to joining social media, so she was blown away when she finally saw first-hand how toxic it could be. She started an Instagram account in June of 2018 and, shortly after, was the target of trolls mocking her appearance in a post by her niece.

Roberts was upset about the negative comments people made about her looks and then was gutted when she considered social media's effect on young women. In a 2018 interview with Oprah Winfrey for Harper’s Bazaar, Julia recounted the story.

“Although something did happen recently on my niece Emma’s Instagram that I think taught me a lot about what it’s like being a young person in today’s society. One weekend morning Emma slept over, and we got up and were having tea and playing cards and having this beautiful morning, and then a couple of days later, she posted a picture of us,” Roberts recalled.



Keep ReadingShow less

The gaze of the approving Boomer.

Over the past few years, Baby Boomers (1946 to 1964) have been getting a lot of grief from the generations that came after them, Gen X (1965 to 1980), Millenials (1981 to 1996), and now, Gen Z (1997 to 2012). Their grievances include environmental destruction, wealth hoarding, political polarization, and being judgemental when they don’t understand how hard it is for younger people to make it in America these days.

Every Baby Boomer is different, so it's wrong to paint them all with a broad brush. But it’s undeniable that each generation shares common values, and some are bound to come into conflict.

However, life in 2023 isn’t without its annoyances. Many that came about after the technological revolution put a phone in everyone’s hands and brought a whole new host of problems. Add the younger generations' hands-on approach to child rearing and penchant for outrage, and a lot of moden life has become insufferanble.

Keep ReadingShow less
Representative image from Canva

Because who doesn't want to preserve the natural beauty of a bouquet for as long as possible?

With Valentine’s having just passed, many of us might be looking at beautiful bouquets bestowed by our sweethearts and wondering how to keep them fresh for as long as possible (the flowers, that is, but maybe your beau as well).

If the thought of experimenting with a ton of home remedies found online sounds exhausting, you’re in luck! Someone decided to test a whole handful of them to see which worked best for perfectly preserved petals.

Keep ReadingShow less
Joy

'Nicest judge in the world' reveals the $300 case that pushed him to rule with compassion

Judge Frank Caprio shares how his father's disappointment in his first judgment "crumbled" him.

StephanieRPereira/Wikimedia Commons

Judge Caprio has become known for his compassion in the courtroom.

Frank Caprio has spent 38 years as a judge, making a name for himself as the chief judge of the municipal court of Providence, Rhode Island and gaining fame as the "nicest judge in the world" for his rulings on the reality show "Caught in Providence."

Caprio's empathy and compassion has shone through in his judgments, as he talked to defendants like real people, getting to know their personal stories and issuing judgments that helped the person get on their feet rather than punishing them for being poor or sick or taking care of their family.

In a video on Instagram, Caprio shared that his compassionate approach stemmed from a case brought before him on his very first day on the bench. When asked if there was a certain case from his years as a judge that he still thinks about today, Caprio shared that there was one case that made him feel "crumbled," and which he still gets upset just thinking about.

Keep ReadingShow less

President Joe Biden and First Lady Dr. Jill Biden share how they fell in love.

The creators of Meet Cute NYC took a 230-mile detour down south and stopped by Washington, DC. to get the story of how the President and First Lady met for a special Valentine’s Day post. The result was a lesson in the critical role that persistence can play in bringing people together.

Meet Cute NYC documents “microportraits of modern love” and features its host, Jeremy Bernstein, asking random people the all-important question: “Excuse me, are you two a couple?”

The video opens with Mr. Biden revealing how he met Jill in 1975 after being set up by his brother. The president lost his wife, Neilia, and 1-year-old daughter, Naomi, in a car crash in 1972, leaving him the single father of 2 boys.

Keep ReadingShow less