HOUSTON — During combat, most members of the military shoot with guns. Stacy Pearsall shot with a camera. Either way, boots on the ground means lives are at risk.
"Anybody who`s been to combat does not come home unchanged," says the retired staff sergeant and combat photographer. "One of the heavier burdens is being the person to take these last living pictures of soldiers on the battle field. I spent 10 years in the service as a combat photographer and my injuries led to a medical retirement."
Pearsall recovered at a V.A. hospital surrounded by vets from every generation. "I met countless extraordinary men and women who are my fellow veterans and their stories go relatively untold."
She had an epiphany which soon became her purpose. It`s called the Veteran's Portrait Project. "My most primary goal is to honor the veterans and thank them for their service and to give them a portrait that they can pass down to their family."
Ten years, 29 states and more than 7,000 portraits later, this is her mission.
"My combat experience was simply a preamble, preparatory, for what I`m doing now. That was the most precious time in my life for so any reasons but the Veterans Portrait Project is a continuation of that service," she says. "I've seen the best and the worst in humanity and I know how I want to live my life."
Her military roots date back to the revolutionary war and she enlisted at age 17. Now, as a Nikon Ambassdor, she travels the country sharing her visual journey. "The Houston Camera Exchange invited me to come give a lecture this evening." It's called, "Combat From Behind the Camera" and Rice University is just the next stop on her tour of duty.