I’ve been following The Veterans Project (TVP) on Facebook and Instagram for a couple years now. For those who are not familiar with  TVP it is an online journal profiling the experiences of Veterans via interviews and photographs. It sheds light on their lives, experiences during and after their service, highlighting their struggles and successes. In an era where only a small percentage of the population is or has served in the military this project is, in my opinion, a vital part of the social landscape to give the nonveteran population a view into the life and sacrifices that military members/families make in their service to the national good. The project has profiled approximately sixty Veterans from World War 2 through the present, male and female, from the USA, Britain, Australia, and France.

The founder and motivation behind TVP is Tim K. an Army Veteran of combat in Iraq himself. A few weeks ago Tim reached out to me and a few others about an upcoming opportunity to support TVP and asked to pass the word onto others. I contacted Tim and told him that I thought that I might be able to a little better than contacting a few friends that I was a guest author here on the Loadout Room (LOR) we set up a time for an interview and on the evening of November first my phone rang with Tim on the other end and the following is the result of that conversation.

Tim was born and raised in San Antonio, Texas he joined the Texas Army National Guard as a cook at the age of seventeen was assigned to and tasked as an Infantryman. He was in his second year at Southwestern Assembly of God University where he was a baseball player when his unit was activated in 2009 for a deployment to Iraq. Tim served in Iraq from 2009 – 2010 with 3/141 Infantry of the 36th Infantry Division.  They were the last Brigade deployed to Iraq before the drawdown. During his time there he served at Camp Taji and in Bagdad at Camp Cropper. Upon his return, he returned to college to finish his bachelor’s degree and had a successful career as a baseball player there. Right after his Bachelor’s, Tim returned to school to pursue his Master’s degree at the University of Texas Dallas. During this time Tim was dealing with some family issues and experienced a dark time in his life.

It was during this period that Tim took a photography class, picking up a camera and concentrating on what he saw through the lens helped settle down his mind and not focus on his own situation but what was on the other side. Tim had a professor from Cal Berkley who spoke to him about feeling bad about how she had treated Vietnam Vets back when she was younger and thought that he should tell Veterans stories. At first, he didn’t care for the idea but it grew on him.    

For his capstone project, Tim decided that he would do a project that included interviewing four Veterans using ten questions and photos to tell their stories. When he presented his project the audience went silent with their stories and the effects of military combat service and the impact on themselves and their family.  People had never heard the stories of Veterans directly from the mouths of Veterans and finally had a tiny insight into what military service in combat was. They didn’t understand about PTSD, TBI, losing friends, being wounded, assimilation, etc… Tim won second place and after the presentation one of the judges told him to never stop doing this and that he was a Navy Veteran. Tim was still unsure whether to continue or not but after the suicide of Carter Chick one of the original profiles for his capstone project and a personal friend Tim decided that this would be the road for him.

Interview with Tim Kolczak Founder of the Veterans Project
Carter Chick

TVP is just about five years old now. The first four Vets were all Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans. Tim said that at first he felt unable to cover older Vets as couldn’t relate to their experiences but after a while he realized that despite them being from a different era they were still is brothers and needed to tell their stories especially the Vet’s from World War Two as we are rapidly losing them and their experiences. The stories tell of hardship, pain, sacrifice, separation from family, and sometimes separation from the nation. The questions and photographs paint a picture of the vets as individuals and as a community. All are very different people who served their brothers/sisters and their country.

TVP also has a sister Facebook page known as The Caregiver Project which highlights the families of service members killed in action, wounded in action, survivors of service member who takes their own life, and those family members who service member is currently deployed. This page provides the home front face of military service.

Currently, TVP has a few sponsors that help fund the project. Tim has just established a Patreon membership for TVP to allow the followers to fund the project allowing him to remain independent as to who is profiled in the project. The lowest tier is $1.50 per month to receive the same content as well as Tim’s personal perspective and a behind the scenes of the project. The Patreon membership will be officially launching in about a week or so, look for details on the website, Facebook and Instagram pages.

I asked Tim what the project means to him or if he had any final thoughts he’d like to share and I’ll admit that this is not an exact quote but I believe that I captured the depth and spirit of his words. Tim said that for him this project and the growth of it are about the Lord and his impact on my life. That men are still willing to go to their death for their beliefs and their brothers/sisters.

 I will say I am a believer in Tim’s work with both The Veterans Project and The  Caregiver Project. It is so important in this day and age for people to have insight and understanding into the sacrifices made by service members and their families make for the benefit of everyone in the country. I encourage everyone to subscribe to The Veterans Project and The Caregiver Project on Facebook and Instagram and if you can become a Patreon member to help support his work.

Author  – Art Dorst is the owner of A. Dorst Consulting & Training Services and is a Senior Consultant for LaSorsa & Associates.  He served in the U.S. Navy and  Army National Guard, and is a retired municipal Police Officer, NRA Instructor, and is currently a security provider/trainer.