Since October 2003, I have been making portraits of American soldiers who were wounded in the Iraq War. I seek them out in their hometowns, after they have been discharged from military hospitals. I photograph them alone, mainly in their rooms, which to me feel like little cages. I strip them of patriotic colors and heroic postures. I see them alienated and dispossessed, left empty handed amid dreams of glory and escape.
While their physical wounds are profound, it is their psychological condition that is my primary focus.
As many of these soldiers joined the military to escape economic and social hardship, seeing them back in a domestic setting all alone with no support, suggests that their dreams of transformation and success through military service were painfully naïve.
Meeting so many severely disabled young men and women was deeply disturbing to me. I felt complicit because they had fought in my name. And I felt the divide of privilege because I did not have to make a similar sacrifice.
Nina Berman (more photos)