More specifically, we are celebrating the evolution of our beloved organization. In 1941, Josephine Herrick founded Volunteer Service Photography (VSP), an organization that sent photographers into VA Hospitals to work with the wounded warriors of World War II. Offering the camera as a tool for holistic healing and recognition of the whole person, VSP evolved and expanded to reach other populations who faced challenges, like children with physical disabilities.
In March 1983, VSP became Rehabilitation Through Photography (RTP), which had been the VSP tagline for 42 years. Renamed Josephine Herrick Project (JHP) in 2013, we continue this legacy of strengthening individual voice, self-confidence and community engagement through participation in our programs and internships.
Like the evolution of the camera or even the evolution of our understanding of the human condition, our organization has evolved in our mission to make art accessible and uplifting for all. As we enter our 75th year of enhancing lives through photography, JHP is proud to celebrate our long lasting legacy and our growth in supporters, volunteers and individuals served.
As a volunteer organization serving veterans for nearly seventy-five years, I wanted to report on something dear to JHP for Veterans Day so I picked up the phone and called Sheridan Dean. One of our goals is to train veterans to teach our veteran programs. Sheridan, after taking two programs at the Brooklyn VA taught by Camille Tokerud, assisted her in teaching a program at the Genesis House in Brooklyn, and now he is co-teaching with Linda Kessler at St. Francis College in Brooklyn Heights. He said “what is rewarding is that there are always a couple of veterans in each class who, like me, get hooked on photography.”
During his military service, Sheridan attended aviation school and worked on aircraft structural repair. Returning home to Brooklyn, he had a career with the telephone company. Now, in retirement, he is happy to document events like yesterday’s at Brooklyn Borough Hall: Eric Adams, Borough President, and Commissioner of Veteran Affairs, Loree Sutton, MD, Brigadier General US Army Ret. spoke about housing and jobs for veterans. The transit Authority and the NYC Police Department are both hiring, but Sheridan said he is happy in retirement, teaching JHP programs and doing photography. His goal is to make each photograph museum quality.
JHP honored the Commissioner on October 19th at our annual benefit auction. She is such a fabulous speaker; our guests were ready to enlist! Sheridan said that he is proud of her as a veteran, especially her energy and her positivity. She has made great strides in eradicating veteran homelessness in NYC and in creating jobs for veterans. When I asked what else she could do to help NYC veterans, Sheridan liked the idea of a Museum for veteran’s art.
Last Veteran’s Day, Sheridan and I and a few others spoke about the JHP programs to veterans at St. Francis College. When I asked about his Veteran’s Day agenda for this year, he said he’d be at the Brooklyn Mall: Applebee’s, Red Lobster and Olive Garden providing free dining for Veterans. He also has a dinner to attend on Long Island, hosted by the Knights of Columbus.
Josephine Herrick Project is thinking of our veterans on Veteran’s Day. Thank you for your service all over the world. Thank you to our veterans who serve as teaching artists by volunteering their free time and continuing to serve our country and those in need.
Our veteran photographers lead photography classes throughout the year where they can focus on positive thinking, community building.
Josephine Herrick Project honors veterans today and everyday through our work in VA hospitals and Vet Centers.
Photograph by: Israel Smith, Veteran, Services for the Underserved
Top Photograph by: Anna Swanson, Veteran, Bronx VA
On Veterans Day, Maureen McNeil, Executive Director of Josephine Herrick Project announced the start of a free photography program for veterans at St. Francis College in Brooklyn Heights. Veteran Sheridan Dean commented on his experience in JHP photography programs at the Brooklyn VA. and how he has now become an assistant photography teacher at Genesis program for Services for the Under Served.
Are you a Veteran and interesting in learning digital photography for FREE?
Join the Josephine Herrick Project (JHP) for an 8-session introduction to digital photography at Unique Photo in Fairfield, NJ!
Using Canon Rebel DSLR cameras, this 8-session program will focus on several different subjects, including portraiture, still life, outdoor photography, special effects, macro photography, and much more.
Classes start Saturday, October 11th at 10am to noon at Unique Photo in Fairfield, NJ.
Instructors include Harmon Kaplan, Rick Gerrity, Michael Downey, and Jackie Augustine.
Canon DSLR cameras will be provided for use during class.
This program is FREE RSVP for VETERANS ONLY. Please do not enroll if you are not a veteran.
Enroll early! Only 15 spots available.
Since its founding in 1941, JHP has had a distinguished legacy of offering free programs to veterans. Dr. Howard Rusk, renowned rehabilitation pioneer, tapped photographer Josephine Herrick to train photographers to teach the art and technical aspects of photography to wounded soldiers. Portable darkrooms were designed so that bed-bound patients could learn to develop and print the photos they had taken. Today the Josephine Herrick Project has programs for veterans at the Brooklyn VA, the James J. Peter VA Hospital in the Bronx, and the St. Albans VA Hospital in Queens. Other veteran programs are in partnership with libraries, colleges and Services for the Underserved. Here is a link to The Today Show featuring a JHP program which aired on July 4, 2014, http://www.today.com/video/today/55575203&hl=en.
The goal of the free JHP photography programs for veterans is to connect participants to their communities. JHP provides at no cost, cameras, supplies, materials and professional instructors. The program introduces veterans to the camera, focusing on portraiture, still life, street photography and photojournalism. Selected veteran photographs are then exhibited in venues around NYC and the surrounding area, enhancing their ability to transform communities through their artistic vision.
Listen to a great radio interview about our Veteran Photography Programs.
Camille Tokerud, professional photographer and JHP Volunteer Photographer was interviewed by Eric Dehm, host and producer of the Morning Wake-Up Call on WRHU-FM, Hemstead, NY about JHP’s Veteran programs. It’s a great segment that shows how “the power of photography” has made a d.ifference in the lives of the Brooklyn VA Hospital Veterans
Here’s the link to the Morning Wake-Up Call on WRHU-FM, Hemstead, NY Video:
NBC Today Show “Hope to it” segment on The Josephine Herrick Project and our program at the Brooklyn VA was featured this morning! It’s a wonderful segment that illustrates how “the power of photography” can make a differnce in the lives of Veterans and other underserved populations.
Special thanks to the NBC Today Show for doing and amazing piece on JHP, to Matt Sweetwood for leading the charge in “sharing our story” across many platforms, to professional photographer and instructor for this program Camille Tokerud, to Beryl Brenner, recreation & creative arts therapist at the VA and to Maureen McNeil, our Executive Director who puts her heart and soul into creating and implementing programs and making sure our organization continues to help others through the power of photograhy.
Photo of Maureen McNeil, JHP Executive Director and Brooklyn VA Participant Felicia Foster Photo @RickGerrity
By Maureen McNeil – Memorial Day Weekend 2014
As we celebrate veterans as heroic young people who risked their lives for their country, today of all days, we must also commit to helping the more than 2.9 million disabled veterans from wars over the last seven decades.
In 1944 Josephine Herrick was tapped by Dr. Howard Rusk, father of rehabilitation medicine, to organized programs, equipment and train women to teach the art and technology of photography to wounded WWII soldiers in NYC hospitals. Today, that legacy of photography and service lives on at JHP. It is no secret that helping others makes humans feel good.
Professional photographer Camille Tokerud specializes in lifestyle photography www.camilletokerud.com but over the last two years she has volunteered to teach portrait and still life photography to more than 50 veterans at the Brooklyn VA Hospital. One of her students, Mai Jun Li, an Iraq and Afghanistan veteran wrote:
Photo by Mai Jun Li, Brooklyn VA Program Particpant
“My dog tag is important to me. It was there with me witnessing things good and bad.
Taking photos of my ID is making me feel grateful. When I try to remember the past, my dog tag has been on me for years. It means a lot to me. I hold onto it like it’s saving my life.”
The Josephine Herrick Project photography program at the Bronx VA taught by professional photographer Nousha Salimi www.noushasalimi.com has a waiting list.
Iraq and Afghanistan veteran Sidney Clark said: “It was a spiritual growth for someone like myself. Nousha treated us with kid gloves.”
Veteran Benjamin Marrero said of the class: “Now when I’m depressed I just go outside and take pictures and it helps me relax.”
Veteran and photographer Scott Nidermaier www.nidermaierpicutres.com teaches an ongoing JHP photography program every Monday afternoon for two years at St. Albans VA in Queens, including the oldest in-patient veterans, and some who are in hospice. Scott said: “Sometimes just the opportunity for my students to pick up a Canon Rebel, hold it in their hands, is a huge accomplishment.”
For wheelchair bound Viet Nam veteran Anthony Sodo, photography has transformed his life. He recently captured an image of a hawk on the hospital grounds. He said: “I have three different cameras now and take pictures for all the Wounded Warrior events. I keep busy. I see a lot more than I would, even looking at the photos I see more than looking at the shot.”
Archival image exhibited at the Soho Photo Gallery in April 2014
In April this year the Josephine Herrick Project exhibited of 26 archival images at Soho Photo Gallery www.sohophoto.com . Viewers witnessed the camera as a transformative tool. Young men in plaster body casts, wheel chairs and legs in traction practiced the new hands-on skill, tried out the makeshift darkroom—a sheet over the bed— and shared the photographs of family, nature and animals with their community of family and friends. Today we continue to witness the same healing power in self-expression. Karen Riedel from Rusk Rehabilitation recently participated in a panel discussion about the healing power of photography along with photojournalists Nina Berman www.ninaberman.com and Ron Haviv www.ronhaviv.com art therapist Beryl Brenner from the Brooklyn VA Hospital, and veteran Sheridan Dean. The event was moderated by editor of Popular Photography and American Photo Miriam Leuchter.
Last year St. Francis College in Brooklyn Heights hosted a JHP veteran exhibit. A current veteran portrait exhibit opened at Unique Photo in Fairfield, New Jersey this past week. Requests for veteran programs come in from around the country every week. Commit today to helping veterans in need who live in your community, or make a donation on the Josephine Herrick Project website at www.jhproject.com
In this week’s address, President Obama commemorates Memorial Day by paying tribute to the men and women in uniform who have given their lives in service to our country
“On Memorial Day, we honor and remember the men and women who gave their lives in service of our country. And while our commitment to those who serve and their families remains important every day, Memorial Day is the perfect time to offer a simple act of kindness to our veterans and military families. You can send a message of thanks to our troops or a military family. Or pledge hours of service. Or even start your own volunteer project. And afterward, please share your story — tell us how you made a difference in your community in support of military families.”
Josephine Herrick Project (formerly Rehabilitation Through Photography) started over 70 years ago to help returning veterans from World War II recuperate and heal using photography. We want to take a moment to thank all our veterans for their service.
Josephine Herrick Project currently has several veterans’ programs. Last month we were very excited to have the “Portaits of Courage” exhibit open at St. Francis College. The Portraits of Courage exhibit, featured photographs by veterans from the Vietnam, Korean, Iraq and Afghanistan wars. The show is a mix of portrait and still lives, with writing both somber and poignant. 19 men and one woman depict wars that have stuck with them physically and mentally, a weight to every moment and thought. And yet, that they shared these personal feelings with the crowd of strangers who were interested and cared, brought them a measure of honor and comfort.
Today is Memorial Day! I’d Like to remember that RTP was founded in 1941 by Josephine Herick with the mission to help our wounded soldiers using photography as a unique form of therapy. In 1942, volunteers were commissioned by the U.S. military to teach photography skills at over 50 locations around the country. Portable darkrooms were also designed so that bed-bound patients could also partake in the photography sessions a well as learn to develop and print the photos they had taken.
RTP continues totransform lives through the power of photography and will be announcing a new Veteran’s Program shortly
I read a a great article today by Dave Helfert, Professor of Political Communicationa at John Hopkins University who reminds us to “take just a minute to honor those who fought in our wars and lived. For many, their battles are far from over.”
Thank you to all who have served our country!
Jackie Augustine, President, RTP Board of Directors
Memorial Day: Honor the Fallen, Remember the Living
In 1868, the nation set aside the last Monday in May to remember and honor those who had died in her battles. Memorial Day was originally called Decoration Day, and people placed wreaths and bouquets on the graves of the fallen from the Civil War.
One hundred forty-four years later — seven declared or undeclared wars and dozens of incursions, clashes and confrontations since Lee’s surrender at Appomattox Courthouse — it’s still fitting and proper to honor the fallen. But it is every bit as fitting and proper to honor those who have been scarred, visibly or invisibly, by combat. Many combat wounds don’t show, and yet the invisible scars can be every bit as painful, every bit as debilitating, last as long and hurt as deeply as any physical injury.
Today it’s called post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. It’s been around as long as war itself. Greek soldiers in the Battle of Marathon in 490 B.C. experienced it on the battlefield and after they’d returned home. In our own country’s history, thousands and thousands of Civil War veterans suffered from “soldier’s heart.” In WWI, WWII and Korea, it was called shell shock or combat fatigue. During the Vietnam War, the military didn’t want to admit that anything was wrong. So lots of retuning vets went undiagnosed and were just considered weird or screwed up when they came home.
PTSD wasn’t acknowledged and listed in Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders until 1980. The International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems, the authoritative medical classification list published by the World Health Organization to code diseases, signs and symptoms, abnormal findings, complaints, social circumstances and external causes of injury or diseases, did not list PTSD until 1992.
And now we have new generations of Americans who have witnessed the abject horror of war and its effect on even the strongest human spirit. They understand the brain-numbing reality of living every hour of every day knowing you could be killed or maimed at almost any time. They understand that to survive in war, you have to be able to kill other people and make incredible deals with yourself to make it okay. They understand that you have to demonize the enemy, even minimize their humanity and turn them into less than people because that makes it easier to kill them. They may have experienced the shock and white-hot anger at losing a buddy. And they assuredly understand that, when snipers have your unit pinned down, or IEDs are detonating, or when you’re in the middle of a firefight, all the speeches about building a democracy or keeping the world safe from terrorism are bilious BS. They understand that, in war, the world doesn’t extend beyond them and their immediate comrades.