IMPACT

Veterans Express Their True Selves Beyond The Uniform In Stunning Photo Series

02/26/2015 05:29 pm ET | Updated Dec 29, 2015

Updated on May 19, 2015; 11:55 a.m. EDT.

A new photo series is casting clichés aside by portraying veterans as nothing but their truest selves.

"The Veteran Vision Project," created by photographer and college student Devin Mitchell, aims to both empower veterans and enlighten the public about the serious issues they face upon returning home. As CBS News reported, sometimes a military uniform "can mask the complexity of the men and women who wear it," and Mitchell is setting out to unveil just who they really are.

"The veteran population is so diverse, and that is one of the elements that is so amazing about the project," Mitchell said in a video posted on Kickstarter. His online fundraiser aims to raise $20,000 to publish a photo book of his work. "If there’s one thing I could accomplish with this project, it would be to give the veterans a voice.”

In the photo illustrations, veterans pose -- sometimes with family members -- in front of a mirror. One photo captures them dressed in uniform and typically sporting a stoic expression. Mitchell takes another photo depicting the military member however they choose to be photographed as a civilian. He then combines the two contrasting images into one.

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veteran photo series
Major Patrick Lehmann, Medical Officer
United States Army, Reserves

"It’s really giving back to us veterans in allowing us a chance to actually speak out and show who we are," participant Taralyn Goldman, who served in the U.S. Army in Iraq, told ABC 7 News in Los Angeles.

Although several images show carefree men and women in moments of happiness, some reveal the dark realities many military members live with after their service. As CBS reported, some veterans chose to be photographed with items reflecting the pain associated with PTSD -- recreational drugs, alcohol and prescription medications.

"I signed on ... with Devin as just kind of a way to expose the American public to veterans issues," Brad Ivanchan, an injured Marine who participated in the project, said in the Kickstarter video. "Since the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan started, 2.5 million veterans have served in the armed forces and been deployed. This project really helps tell their story after they’ve returned home."

Scroll below to view more of Mitchell's photo illustrations.

  • Devin Mitchell
    Chris Van Etten | Corporal/E4 | Purple Heart | Combat Action Ribbon | Afghanistan Campaign Medal | United States Marines | with Harley, IED Detection Dog
  • Devin Mitchell
    Layla Webb, E5/LS2 | United States Navy
  • Devin Mitchell
    Sgt. Darren F. | United States Marine Corps
  • Devin Mitchell
    Alencheril Cyriac | Military Intelligence | United States Army
  • Sgt. Joanna Ellenbeck/E-5 | United States Army
  • Devin Mitchell
    Ryan Miller, A1C, United States Air Force | Brittany Miller, SRA, United States Air Force | Daughter: Kaelyn Miller
  • Devin Mitchell
    Brad Ivanchan | 0331 Machine Gunner | 1st Battalion, 7th Marines | Purple Heart | Afghanistan Campaign Medal | Iraq Campaign Medal | United States Marines
  • Devin Mitchell
    Sgt. Stephanie Roman | United States Marine Corps | San Carlos Apache Tribe
  • Devin Mitchell
    Sgt. Kyle Stewart | United States Marine Corps

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