Today's veterans join a long long line of people who are stuck between two identities, two roles. In the name of responsibility, they leave the life and culture of their birth and are reborn into the military. This process is so total that every man and woman in service must pass through bootcamp and become an organ in the massive organism of defense.
When these soldiers return to the culture and places of their origin, after years or decades of service with their fellow soldiers, they must yet again shed their identity and begin again.
It's a quiet struggle they face. We see it in the casualties, men and women missing limbs, visibly altered by the combat they experienced. But it's quiet, internal. Most vets do not want to discuss the traumas that happened to them. And for good reason, those traumas are kept secret. Nobody wants to relive the loss of a brother, a best friend. The loss of a hand or leg. Nobody wants to relive loss.
And yet in spite of these losses, our people, brothers, sisters, husbands, wives, children, return to the bosom of their homes and loved ones, and must begin yet another change of identity, from warrior, from bother-in-arms back to peaceful civilian life.
We expect so much from these people. Requiring them to change who they are, and through that, how they behave, what they value.
We expect so much.
Fashion Has Heart exists to give these veterans a voice. So much is expected of our veterans, but little voice is given to them. FHH provides that voice, combining designers with veterans to make apparel, shoes and other goods that carry a message from those vets. What it feels to have such loss, such triumphs. To rediscover the peaceful life, and to struggle with all of these changes.
For more information, visit the Fashion Has Heart website. Support them by ordering something or volunteering to work with a veteran and helping them find their voice. You can also help out by attending the A.K. Rikk's Runway for Charity.
A special thanks to Bates Footwear for making the veteran-inspired boots worn in the photo shoot!