War photographer David Guttenfelder has been capturing conflict for two decades, documenting violence in Congo, Kosovo, Gaza, Liberia, Afghanistan, and Iraq. He thought he left the worst of it behind when he came back home to the States. Then he heard the shocking statistic from a 2013 Department of Veterans Affairs report that 22 U.S. military veterans commit suicide every day, and knew he had found a new battleground.
Now Guttenfelder has joined Mission 22, a collaboration between veterans’ nonprofit organization Elder Heart and agency CPB. Elder Heart was founded by Delta Force and Special Forces members who used their own personal experience with PTSD and traumatic brain injury (TBI) as motivation to help end suicide among American veterans.
Guttenfelder has created “War At Home,” a project featuring pictures of the homes of vets who have committed suicide, that will be part of an ad campaign set to run in Fortune, Money, and Esquire, as well as on outdoor billboards in four of the cities where the pictured veterans homes are located.
According to numbers released earlier this year the rate of suicide among male veterans under 30 jumped 44% between 2009 and 2011, and organizations like Mission 22 and Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America are trying to raise awareness and support for the cause.
CPB executive creative director Gustavo Sarkis says the idea for the project came from the thought that soldiers are so well prepared to go to war, but not to adjust to the usual routine back home. “So we thought it would be interesting to capture this through the lens of a highly acclaimed war photographer who has spent the last 20 years embedded with our troops as he also transitions back to life at home. Although they have come back to the safety of their homes, this is where their greatest struggles usually take place.”