RENO, Nev. (KRNV & MyNews4.com) - Instead of letting old military uniforms sit in the back of a closet, a group of local veterans are giving them a second life in the name of art.
Combat Paper Project is taking military uniforms, and turning them into a completely unrecognizable paper art. Nevada Air National Guard Lieutenant Colonel Joann Meacham says it's not just a form of expression, but a therapeutic way for veterans to face their military experience that is the fabric of their lives.
"It was very difficult the first time I cut my uniform,” Meacham says. “In fact, it was an emotional process.”
Her uniform represents her proud service to the country and multiple deployments to Afghanistan. Meacham says shearing the uniform into little bits is not an act of destruction, but of re-birth.
"To actually take scissors to it did feel against the rules, or like I was violating my military service, but in fact, I’m not. I'm honoring my military service."
She's one of the many veterans turning unserviceable uniforms into art as part Combat Paper Nevada.
"What Combat Paper Project does is allows time for military member to actually sit down and think," says Meacham.
As she feels each thread unravel between her fingertips through a machine called a beater, Meacham says, she reflects and meditates. She thinks about how each thread of her military service and life has woven her entire world.
"For me it was a way to reflect on my experiences while deployed. And think about how those experiences changed me. And changed my family. Changed the way I feel about my country. All in very good ways."
The process, she says, has helped her mental health and well-being. She believes strongly that every veteran needs that time with their thoughts after war and combat.
"That in turn has inspired me to write my military story on that paper. Because is military men and women don't tell their stories, how will the truth ever be known?"
Combat Paper Project was a part of Art Town, but hold workshops throughout the year.
Learn more at: www.combatpaper.org