Veterans’ stories showcased through photography in Student Union gallery

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The Hope 22 exhibit in the William T. Kempler Gallery in the Student Union, running from Sept. 4-24, is a Kansas City-based photography project showcasing veterans' personal stories in order to raise awareness for the country's high veteran suicide rate and to bring hope to veterans and their families. (Sarah Millard| Collegian Media Group)

The William T. Kemper art gallery in the K-State Student Union is currently showcasing a collection of photographs titled “Hope 22: Helping Our Patriots Endure.” The exhibit is a Kansas City-based project that displays photographs of veterans using various methods to cope with mental health issues such as PTSD.

“It’s about men and women who have served in the army in some capacity and they have dealt with PTSD or some issues because of their service,” Erika Davis, UPC program advisor, said. “So, this is about resilience and how they overcome [it].”

One photograph shows a veteran broadcasting his Kansas City radio show in front of the World War One Memorial. Another displays a man in his yoga studio. Another is putting all of his effort into swimming.

The name of the exhibit comes from a fact reported by the VA that an average of 22 veterans commit suicide daily. Hope 22 seeks to raise awareness of the problem and connect local resources to those who need it.

Some of the photographs also use images to show the emotions of the veterans. One of them has shadows going across his body as he feels that for years he was living in the shadows.

The exhibit came to the Union at request of Arthur DeGroat, executive director of academic student services and vice president of student life. DeGroat formerly worked in the U.S. Army and spent time this summer with the founder and creative directive of the exhibit, Brooke Brown.

Ivy Bogle, sophomore in hospitality management, said she appreciates how the exhibit shows the depth of those featured.

“I took away from it that people are not surface value,” Bogle said. “People’s lives are more complicated than you can bear, and you don’t know those stories until you talk to them.”

As K-State is located near Fort Riley, Davis said she believes featuring an exhibit like this is necessary.

“We have military students, we’re right by a military base,” Davis said. “It’s very important to showcase.”

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I'm Pete Loganbill and I'm a Staff Writer at the Collegian. After transferring from Johnson County Community College this year, I am now a junior in Public Relations. I believe constant communication leads to progress, no matter how difficult a comment may be for me or anyone to hear. Contact me at ploganbill@collegianmedia.com.