A collaborative photo and oral history project about the trials of homecoming by Jim Lommasson and returning veterans from the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars. Exit Wounds is a traveling exhibition and book project.
“Being thanked for doing something for America feels very awkward. I never felt that I was doing anything for America. I was doing it for the people that I was there with. I will happily accept thanks for the job that I did for the soldiers. I want people to know most returning veterans don’t always feel good about what they were involved in. Vets don’t always feel good about what they’ve done. Not everyone wants to be regarded as a hero, or welcomed home as if there achieved something. Or that they should be thanked when they’ve experienced things that should not have happened. If we are going to commit ourselves to a conflict, we need to commit ourselves to the consequence. People need to share that burden, and listen to the vets.” – Mylan
Photos taken by service members during deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan. The EXIT WOUNDS exhibition contains over 2000 photos from soldiers.
“I don’t Know “Katrina’s 5. Mom’s 25. Mom’s going to war–soon, too soon, not soon enough. I don’t know. We are watching, “We Were Soldiers.” She says, “Mommy, that’s war.” “Oh, Sweety, don’t worry, Momma’s just driving trucks.” January 15th, no sleep. Making love to him for the last time– maybe–could be–maybe not–I don’t know. Kisses. So many kisses, tears, I love you’s. I miss you right now! I’m not even gone and I miss you right now! Don’t let go of me. I can’t get close enough. Tighter. I turned off the alarm. Who needs it. It’s January 16th, 4:00AM. I am in the shower with him. He brushes my hair. I put it up according to military regulation. Brown T-shirt, DCU bottoms, tuck in, chinch the belt, wool socks, tan boots. DCU top. IDENTIFICATION TAGS! For just in case. Maybe, could be–maybe not–I don’ know. How does a mother say goodbye to her five-year-old child? What kind of goodbye is it? Is it the last goodbye? Maybe, could be, maybe not–I don’t know. So kiss her while she sleeps, pat her strawberry blond hair, one last take-it-all-in glance. Turn around–don’t look back–keep going and walk out the door. For the last time? Maybe–could be–maybe not–I don’t know.” – Mandy Martin about leaving for war.”
“When does a war end? Does it ever? Many returning soldiers bring wars back with them, and these wars can reach beyond the battlefield or firefight, infiltrating the very thing that defines comfort and safety: home. The trials of homecoming are vast and complex, often resonating with tales of Odysseus’ journey back to Ithaca from the Trojan War. Photographer James Lommasson has collected oral histories from returning soldiers and documented their struggles at home. In this conversation, participants will consider the wars at home faced not only by returning veterans, but also by communities at large.”
The photography and stories from the soldiers themselves says more about the emotional challenge and pain of life after war than all of the books, news stories, TV, film, and social media combined. This doesn’t mean we should stop all the other excellent ways to educate and make the public more aware of the legacy of war. But my friend Jim Lommasson’s unique photographic presentation, along with the stories connecting the human experiences of homecoming and life after war, provides a powerful view that proves the old saying, “a picture is worth a thousand words.” This is a book that should sit on your coffee table so that everyone who comes to your home will see it, pick it up, and browse the photos and stories that touch your heart. This stunning pictorial and the stories truly connects the emotional toll of war and the challenges of homecoming… My heart goes out to veterans of all wars and their loved ones who can suffer for a life time with moral injury…
Reconciliation: A Son’s Story
About the author
Steve Sparks is a retired information technology sales and marketing executive with over 35 years of industry experience, including a Bachelors’ in Management from St. Mary’s College. His creative outlet is as a non-fiction author, writing about his roots as a post-WWII US Navy military child growing up in the 1950s-1960s.