Navy veteran Christopher Oshana was once told that photography stirs emotions.
He’s hoping to do that through his photography and documentary work. The Goodyear resident was granted workspace in 2013 at monOrchid, a Phoenix-based coworking space, studio and gallery to pursue his project called “PTSD: The Invisible Scar.”
“I want the viewer to look into the eyes of our veterans and see — even possibly feel — their pain as I interview them,” said Oshana, who does not have post-traumatic stress.
“Post-traumatic stress is a natural effect of a horrific event that our brave men and women have witnessed, been part of or participated in. They need our help, and when I say ‘our’ I mean the country as a whole.”
In honor of PTSD Awareness Month in June, Oshana will show four of his 20 pieces and spreading awareness of the disorder on the House Lawn at the Capitol, 17th Avenue and Washington Street, from 6 to 6:30 p.m. Friday, June 4.
Many of the veterans tell Oshana they appreciate his project because they would rather speak to someone who has “been there, done that. It is hard to explain to a civilian today what veterans have lost once they are no longer in the service. They lost the camaraderie, looking out for each other, being told they made a mistake and not getting their feelings hurt.”
Oshana said he created this project because his “brothers and sisters” need that person who understands that standing in the pouring rain on guard duty is important, as is cleaning and polishing the brass.
“It is the like-mindedness and common goals that are greater than oneself,” he said. “So, with that being said, once service members leave the military, they have nothing. They feel alone. Their anxiety rises and they start making poor decisions.”
Oshana said it’s difficult to tell who has post-traumatic stress, so civilians need to treat everybody well.
“I truly don’t want to sound trite, but everyone knows what they look like with the burn scars, the shrapnel scars, the missing limbs and the list can go on,” he said.
“It is the invisible scar, PTS, that you don’t see. Veterans with PTS look like you and I for the most part. Yes, they can also look like the aforementioned, but most look like us.”
Veterans often sit facing an exit and look for their escape route, he added. Society has alienated them, and they don’t feel safe.
The 55-year-old Vermont native spent 20 years in the Navy, and for the last 15 to 16 years, he has worked for the U.S. Army Recruiting Center.
“I’ve been within the military ranks for 30-some-odd-years. I’m proud of myself, yes, but prouder of the veterans who have sat down with me.”