'Veterans in Focus' at Carroll University showcases photography as healing recreation therapy

MILWAUKEE -- Veterans are the focus of a new photography exhibit at Carroll University, but the veterans aren't only the subjects, but also, the ones who were behind the camera.

Carissa Dipietro

"It's the best picture I think I've ever taken," said Carissa Dipietro, Army veteran.

Dipietro on Monday, Nov. 18 proudly showed off a photo she took when she woke up to see the sunrise -- something that wouldn't have been possible a few years ago.

"I had a problem about five years ago where I wasn't even getting out of bed," said Dipietro.

Dipietro served in the Army from 1999-2003 and she is still healing from the trauma.

"My daughter died two weeks before 9/11. You just push that stuff down and keep going on with the mission, and then I realized I had never dealt with anything," said Dipietro.

Through the lens of a camera -- Dipietro said she found her voice. She's one of the veterans in a recreation therapy program at the Milwaukee VA Medical Center.

"We try to focus on therapeutic themes, like using the camera for focus or perspective, and how that applies to their life," said Courtney Zeller, recreational therapist.

Each photo in this exhibit at Carroll University tells a different veteran's story. Dipietro said she was hopeful the community would come out to listen.

Veterans in Focus photography exhibit

"It's one thing for people to come and say, 'Thank you for your service,' and walk away, but what's the next thing you can do? You can say, 'Hi' to us. You can actually engage with us, and the things that help us heal are what really need supported," said Dipietro.

Dipietro said her dream is to one day travel the country with her camera.

These photos were set to be on display at Carroll University through Friday, Nov. 22.