Simple rectangular buildings enshrined with patriotic memorabilia, hold sacred stories only understood by war veterans. Whispers of horrific memories twist even the strongest minds and bodies of our service men and women. Breathing shared experiences expose deep invisible wounds. Slowly, story by story survivors begin to heal. A code of silence outside walls is a not broken. Always a place of camaraderie, acceptance, honor and respect, yet VFW posts are dying out one by one along with their stories and memories.

For over 120 years the initials V.F.W. on buildings scattered from coast-to-coast symbolized a patriotic commitment to our nation. Tracing its roots to the veterans who served in the Spanish-American War in the late 1800s, the Veterans of Foreign Wars posts have served millions of American service members who fought on foreign soil to protect and defend our freedom.

Membership has drastically fallen over the last few decades from a high of over two million to half that number. VFW posts have suffered from a war of attrition, many demolished for gentrification and others abandoned or falling into disrepair from neglect and lack of funding. The social fabric of veterans has suffered as a result at a time when America has been in continuous wars since the early 2000s. 

As a veteran and a life member of the VFW, I began photographing them, hoping to bring awareness to the decline of places that helped heal our veterans. To date, I have documented posts in 49 states with a goal of photographing at least one in all 50 states. 

This project is supported in part by Idea Capital.

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