(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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