Faces of War reflects on internal scars

Last Thursday in the Union Ballroom, an organization called Hope's Voice hosted "Faces of War," a program seeking to expand the general public's understanding of overseas wars beyond coverage provided by popular media.

According to its Facebook page, Hope's Voice "educates, inspires, empowers, and challenges stigma through the production and presentation of innovative educational lectures."

Two speakers of Hope's Voice, Taryn Davis, a 24-year-old war widow, and Jennifer Crane, an Army veteran suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, said their mission is to spread awareness of the less-often publicized implications of war. "Not all of the wounds of war are on the outside. Many are on the inside, but you're not hearing about them, and people aren't talking about them because they're ashamed," Crane said at the presentation.

Davis described what ran through her head the day she was notified of the death of her husband, Copl. Michael Davis, who had been killed by multiple roadside bombs. "I was thinking, ‘I can't wait to tell Michael about this soldier that can't even compose himself to notify a military wife,'" she said. "I hadn't quite connected that I was that military wife."

Davis eventually contacted the widow of another soldier killed in the same incident, and filmed an interview with her. That interaction developed into the formation of a non-profit organization called the American Widow Project.

Crane described the psychological effect her time in Afghanistan had on her life in the years following her term of service. She said that experiences such as the constant dropping of mortars on her base, witnessing a mentally ill colonel die of a sedative overdose and staying in a hospital with children who were missing limbs will be with her for the rest of her life.

Crane said she eventually became homeless, unemployed and dependent on cocaine. She began harming herself, and attempted suicide. The turning point, Crane said, was her arrest for drug possession in 2006. "It was the best thing that ever happened to me," she said. After the arrest, she completed drug court and began meeting with a therapist. The healing process, she shared, is an ongoing one.

Junior Heather Bristol hosted the presentation and said that the message of Hope's Voice is very important to her, explaining that she has friends and family who are serving or have served in the military and that she wants to help educate others about the difficulties that soldiers, veterans and their loved ones face.

Davis concluded her segment of the presentation by urging the audience to protect the legacy of the nation's current conflicts. She asked students to remember this message: "It was a war where a lot of people like you and me, with hopes and dreams, gave their lives … The war was about more than statistics. It was about love and it was about loss."