Today marks the grand opening of a new office of the Veterans Resource Center (VRC) at CPCC Levine Campus (Room 3115). The VRC is a place for veterans and those who are a part of the veteran community to be supported in their academic, career, and personal endeavors. There is also a very active Student Veteran Association chapter where students find support, common purpose and friendships.
As we celebrate the growth of this community on campus and the expansion of resources, it’s important that we remember to honor Veterans and reflect on the sacrifices made for our country. The Joe Bonham Project, whose exhibit was recently on display at CPCC, represents the efforts of wartime illustrators to document the struggles of U.S. service personnel undergoing rehabilitation after traumatic front-line injury. Formed in early 2011 by Michael D. Fay, the Project takes its name from the central character in Johnny Got His Gun, Dalton Trumbo’s 1938 novel of a World War I soldier unable to communicate with the outside world due to the extent of his wounds.
Jennifer Conway, Student Life Coordinator, shares her experience after visiting the Joe Bonham art exhibit at Sensoria:
Today I am at Sensoria, sitting at the Joe Bonham art exhibit, which documents wounded warriors in their hospital beds, in physical therapy and in various stages of recovery. Many of them are double or triple amputees and have scars you can see, and most assuredly, many you can’t. The gallery is adjacent to the student lounge; a loud place full of students laughing and cussing, the TV blaring the never-ending news cycle and the cacophony that is fast food service. Students are walking by the door, droning into their cell phones, yelling to their friends and complaining about mundane teenage drama… “Girl, if you was real, you wouldn’t play with me. You gonna bump into me in the hallway? It’s gonna be like that?”
And here I am, surrounded by portraits of people in intense pain, who have given their service and their bodies to their country. The Americans depicted on the walls have lost limbs, faces, vision, the ability to walk or eat and drink normally. They have had endless therapies, doctor appointments, surgeries, and a life that revolves around a grinding daily schedule. Attempting to gain ground against wasted muscles and emotional rawness. Or just maintain.
In the midst of the noise, I just want to be very still. Quiet. Drink it in. As if my doing so will somehow protect these men from further harm.
A young student comes in without the hesitation of most. 22, I’m guessing, from the class of ’08 sweatshirt she wears. She immediately asks a lot of questions. “What’s an LED?” It’s an IED, I explain. Improvised Explosive Device. A homemade bomb. “Oh,” she says. She puts her bookbag down. Then her purse. And tears start to run. “Oh.”
She takes her time. Examines each piece. Portraits of men hooked to machines, bandaged and battered. Asks more questions… Are these all the same artist? What happened here? Is that the same man with the infection? Then her appreciation. “This is deep.” “These are someone’s brothers. And sons.” Then her wonder. “How can they do this?” “You just don’t realize… unless you know someone…” More tears flow that she wipes away before they get out of control. We talk some about the physical and emotional support these soldiers will need. “The scars you can’t see, bet those are worse.” She gathers her things and turns to go. She whispers a thank you, and goes back to her day.
If you were unable to attend this exhibit at Sensoria, please click HERE for a video of a walkthrough tour by James Panero.