Invisible Wounds of War is a project that brings veterans’ invisible wounds to light through writing and photography. It seeks to provide healing experiences for veterans through writing and photography and to increase the public’s awareness of the veterans’ experience. The project is created and directed by Jen Johnson and is based in Wilmington, NC.

During 2015 and 2017, we offered writing and photography workshops and created exhibits of the veterans’ work. Please visit the exhibit page to view the work. It is our hope that the online exhibit will continue to promote healing and awareness regarding veterans’ concerns.

 “Recently, the Arts Council supported the Invisible Wounds of War project during which veterans across the state wrote about the unseen wounds of war. The project helped me better understand my own wartime experiences.” –Clyde Edgerton, Salt magazine April 2017

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Check out the video with four of the veterans who participated in the project in 2015:

Project Mission:
Many Veterans don’t share their stories because they feel that other people can’t bear to hear them. This project offers a place for the stories to be told about the invisible wounds of war and gathers an audience to bear witness to the stories.

Veterans are dying by suicide at a rate of 22 per day. This is an urgent epidemic that constitutes a community and public health concern. This project intends to offer connection, hope and healing through writing and photography. It seeks to educate health care and mental health providers about Veterans’ concerns and needs. It intends to engage the  community in conversation that encourages greater understanding of and compassion toward our North Carolina Veterans.

Writing and photography are powerful tools for telling people’s stories and for healing. Writing can help to make order from the chaos. Photography makes meaning of experience where language fails. This project offers a safe space in which Veterans can share their stories and connect with other people who are willing to share theirs. When one person shares their story, it gives another person permission to share theirs. We can transform the Veterans’ narrative into one that ends with hope.

If you are a Veteran in crisis or are experiencing suicidal thoughts please call the Veterans Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255 and press 1. This project does not offer crisis intervention services, but we encourage you to please seek help if you have having suicidal thoughts and/or a plan. Whatever you’re experiencing, it can get better with professional help. 

Invisible Wounds of War project is directed by Jen Johnson.
Jen Johnson, MS, MS, MFA, LPC is a writer, photographer and counselor in private practice in Wilmington, NC. She has worked as a counselor since 1991 and offers mindfulness-based counseling and therapeutic writing and photography in her clinical practice. Jen is the former Statewide Coordinator for the Independent Living Needs Program for the Veterans Administration in Atlanta, Georgia. Her writing has been published in regional, national and international print and online magazines and blogs, literary journals, and professional training manuals, and her photographs have been exhibited internationally and are held in collections by hospitals, medical centers, universities, financial institutions and private collections.

Project Sponsors:

The Arts Council of Wilmington and New Hanover County

This project is offered in partnership with The Arts Council of Wilmington and New Hanover County, a non-profit and local affiliate of the North Carolina Arts Council. 

North Carolina Humanities Council

This project is made possible in part by funding from the North Carolina Humanities Council, a statewide nonprofit and affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

**Tax-deductible donations can be made to The Arts Council of Wilmington. Please write “Invisible Wounds of War” on your check. Thank you for your generous support. Checks can be mailed to The Arts Council of Wilmington and New Hanover County 221 N Front St Suite 101, Wilmington, NC 28401.

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