My name is Sean McGrane. I served for 17 years in the US Army and Army Reserves and deployed 3 times, once to Iraq and twice to Afghanistan. I was honorably discharged in 2011 for medical reasons because of injuries sustained while deployed.
Last year I had the honor of having two of my photos included in an exhibit at the Springfield Art Museum. The name of the exhibit was “Veterans’ Views” and the intent was to give civilians a glimpse into the everyday life of Veterans. One of the things that I really enjoyed about the exhibit was that it didn’t focus on war images, instead on travels, work life, off-duty time and included photos from 1946-2017.
What struck me as I was walking through the exhibit on opening day, was that there were so many common themes represented in the photos. Although the uniforms, locations and equipment had changed dramatically over the years, the scenes themselves stayed the same. As I read the photo descriptions and talked to the fellow Veterans, it was very apparent how much all of them missed the military and credited their service for their successes in life, even the combat Veterans.
While I was very moved by the exhibit, its sphere of influence was somewhat small. I’d like to assemble and publish a book of Veteran stories and photos in order to reach and educate a wider audience. If I can actually pull this off and sell copies, all profits will be donated to Veteran charities. In order to maximize donations, production costs will be minimized as much as possible because my “tribe” has volunteered to help out, and I’ve got graphic designers, typesetters and layout specialists excited to assist with this project.
The working title for the book is “Not our PTS”. The reason I’ve selected this title is because I’m not looking to create a gory war book or portray veterans as victims. I’m frustrated with Vets only being associated with PTS. There’s a significant number of veterans who don’t suffer from PTS, and the ones that I know who do, don’t define themselves or their military service by it. I’m looking to create a collection of photos and stories that offsets the Hollywood image of the military and gives civilians an understanding of why so many of us loved our time in the service. I’ve been out of the Army for almost a decade now, and yet I still “bleed green.” While there were some dark times, I look back on my years as a soldier fondly.
My ask is this: Please consider sending in any photos or stories you might have and get the message out to your community. I’m looking for people to jot down short stories that illustrate what they love(d) about their military service. Stories that still make them laugh years later, stories that tell how lucky they are, that tell about the friends they made, the sights they saw or other reasons why they appreciated their service. Stories that tell how it impacted their life in a positive way. And I’m looking for photos of the real military; training and the suck that brought us all together, travels to exotic locales, the brotherhood, the absurd, the funny, and the touching. I’m not just looking for photos and stories from the current generation of soldiers and Veterans.
Anyone who has a submission, please send it to firstname.lastname@example.org. In the body of the email, please include your name, contact info, dates of service, pay grade/rank, branch of service, deployments, etc. If sending a photo, please include location and date and a line or two about what is depicted in the photograph. Lastly, please include a statement giving me permission to use the photo in the book and the promotion of the book.