Photographer focuses on soldiers’ stories at Milton-Freewater exhibit

Jim Lommasson has noticed a disconnect between the American public and soldiers who have fought in the recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Portland-based freelance photographer and writer is on a mission to change that. Lommasson’s 2015 book, “Exit Wounds: Soldiers’ Stories — Life After Iraq and Afghanistan,” is about United States soldiers who served in the wars. The book features Lommasson’s photographs, interviews, and photographs by the participants. The project includes a traveling exhibit.

In addition, Lommasson has been active with the Oregon Humanities Conversation Project. He will facilitate a discussion titled “Life after War: Photography and Oral Histories of Coming Home.” The free event is Friday, Feb. 3 at 6:30 p.m. at Frazier Farmstead Museum, 1403 Chestnut St., Milton-Freewater.

Lommasson shares about the words of a Marine scrawled on a wall near Baghdad: “America is not at war. The Marine Corps is at war; America is at the mall.”

Statistics, he said, indicate 100 percent of the American people knew a soldier who fought in combat during World War II. And, nearly 100 percent knew someone who fought in Vietnam. As far as the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, Lommasson said the statistics are staggering — maybe two or three percent know someone who was involved in combat.

“We don’t know the soldiers that we send to war,” he said. “They need to tell their stories and we need to hear their stories.”

More than 60 years after the Battle of the Bulge — the bloodiest battle experienced by U.S. forces during World War

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