Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Art of War: Veterans Shred Uniforms

AIR DATE: April 30, 2012 - Art of War: Veterans Shred Uniforms to Create 'Combat Paper' Artwork
SUMMARY In 2007, a returning Iraq war veteran, trying to make sense of his experience, cut up his uniform to make paper from its fibers. Five years later, the Combat Paper Project has found a home in New Jersey. Hoping to reconcile the good and the bad of lives spent at war, four veterans reflect on this therapeutic and artistic outlet.

GWEN IFILL: Finally tonight, transforming the wardrobe of war into art.

In 2007, a returning Iraq war veteran trying to make sense of his experience cut up his battle dress uniform and, together with a friend, made paper from the fibers. The Combat Paper Project was born. Five years later, in New Jersey, the project has launched a permanent workshop for veterans hoping to reconcile the good and bad of lives spent at war.

We met four of them. Here are their stories in their own words.


JAN BARRY, Combat Paper Project: So I couldn't find any of my uniforms left. So, I'm borrowing someone else's uniform. And I'm starting to cut into it. And I'm thinking, this is kind of ridiculous, until I really physically get into, like, this really is cutting through a lot of history.

I'm Jan Barry. I served in the Army in Vietnam 1962-1963. We really were proud to wear that uniform with all those things that were on the uniform. And now you're cutting into it and remixing those memories or those bone-deep sensations.

And at a certain point, the creativity starts flowing in terms of the discussions that are going on. What am I going to do with the paper? So I decided to do a small collection of poetry.

Life after war, it can creep up on you. You came back in pretty good shape, but knew others who died. Write, talk, create art about war, share what's happening with others. One day, damn, you're an old-timer who's lived a lot of life after a war. Transcript>>>

Watch Veterans Shred Uniforms to Create 'Combat Paper' Artwork on PBS. See more from PBS NewsHour.

Read more about the project here: Combat Paper: Veterans Battle War's Demons With Paper-Making
April 30, 2012 - The statistic is stark, heartbreaking and unacceptable. According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, 18 veterans commit suicide every day -- about one every 80 minutes. Many suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, which plagues their thoughts, invades every aspect of their lives and disables some to the point where death is preferable to living through the nightmare. It was once called shell shock and thought to be a byproduct of cowardice. It is now understood to be a natural reaction to astonishing stress, to seeing things that no one ought to ever see. read more>>>

And you can visit Vietnam brother Jan Barry's website to read more of his poetry and writings.

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