(Veterans Portrait Project photo)

By Veterans' Day this November, former combat photographer Stacy Pearsall will have traveled to all 50 states, snapping stark black-and-white portraits of more than 7,500 military veterans.

Despite the care she takes composing each shot, correcting the lighting and cajoling her subjects to engage with the camera, the photos aren't the main thing. The main thing, for her, is the chance to connect with fellow veterans.

According to the retired Air Force staff sergeant, her "Veterans Portrait Project" began as a sort of self-styled therapy as she recovered from a neck injury and head trauma that resulted from a roadside bomb blast in Iraq in 2007. She said it remains a balm for the physical and emotional aftermath of her experience.

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U.S. Marine Crops photo by Cpl. Melanye Martinez

An elephant

Serving in the Indian military is an adventure, even if you end up working in the chow hall. Earlier this week, a video surfaced of an elephant wandering through the dining facility, much to the chagrin of the local troops.

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Inbal Abergil, JOHNSON, 2017

Photographer Inbal Abergil remembers her confusion the first time a friend invited her to the beach for Memorial Day, shortly after she immigrated to the U.S. in 2009. “I said, ‘But we’ll be going to ceremonies right? To pay our respects?’”

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“He’s either going down as the best president ever, or the worst president ever,” the artist Jon McNaughton was saying in mid April over a breakfast of buttermilk pancakes at a cafe in downtown Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

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Photo courtesy of Danny Shervin

Danny Shervin was in college, drinking and playing with gunpowder as he and his friends tried to make miniature rockets and explosives, when a bunch of the incendiary grains spilled on their linoleum kitchen table.

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Brad Hardy photo.

War is destructive in nature, obviously. For Prussian military theorist Carl von Clausewitz, “destruction of an enemy’s armed forces is the means to the end…[and] the only means of destroying the enemy's armed force is by combat….” The timelessness of destruction is grounded in Army doctrine of the offensive, “to defeat, destroy, or neutralize the enemy force” with an aim to take or maintain the initiative in operations. Destruction of two cities proved critical to ending the Second World War, but left a lasting wound in Japan and set the tone for the Cold War arms race. Yet in many cases, destruction can be a source of renewal despite the scars it leaves behind. A nation often uses the fragments that war creates to build cultural artifacts that not only reflect, but look forward.

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