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Ghost Image Series  - Ferrato.jpg

Ghost Image was inspired by a young United States Army Specialist. In his noblest moment, this young man enlisted in the Army after the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2002. Months later, at age 18, he was among the first soldiers sent into Baghdad during the March 2003 invasion. He returned from Iraq a year later. While he was physically unharmed, he struggled with severe post traumatic stress disorder; and it is uncertain if he will ever make a full recovery.


I first met this young man a few weeks after he had come home from Iraq. His emotional anxiety was evident. I felt compassion and a connection with him; and I began to think about how many other young service men and women are also suffering. Until then, I had thought of the casualties of war as the soldiers who don’t come home alive. I suddenly became aware of the living casualties. In Ghost Image, I have attempted to capture the essence of a young man’s experience that has profoundly altered his life.


Ghost Image Series #1 - Erasure page.jpg

In his letters, this young soldier writes, “ I have pretty good control of my emotions when I’m sober. It’s when I’m drinking you see my “Army” side and I won’t back away from a fight. I can really hurt someone if I get a hold of them and that’s not what I want. I just feel like life is kicking (me) while I’m down and I don’t know what to do. Some of the stuff I’ve done is hard for me to even imagine, that’s why it comes back to me in flashbacks and nightmares. I’ve been diagnosed with Post Combat Hyper-Anxiety, but now they think I might have the more severe Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. They think a combination of me being stressed and the smell of a dead animal is what triggered it. I didn’t think about a dead animal like normal people would, it made me think about all the dead bodies I saw in Baghdad. It’s something I’ve tried to block out for the past two years. I stopped eating certain foods because they would make me feel sick. The nightmares started again where I wouldn’t wake up until I got killed. Sometimes I sleep all day or just pace around the house for no reason. Because I was so young and inexperienced, the war was harder on me than most soldiers. I’m 21 and I can’t relate to people my own age. It was a weird feeling to have people trying to kill you when you’re only 18 and on the other side of the world. Next to death, a soldiers worst fear is being forgotten about.”


It is not the intent of Ghost Image to engage in the debate of whether or not war is an appropriate choice; but to encourage consideration of all casualties of war, deceased and living, to truly understand the magnitude of lives forever affected in any conflict.

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