“When guest speakers come into the class, they can spot me in the crowd and instantly tell I’m a veteran,” says ArtCenter student and former mass communication specialist for the U.S. Navy Christopher Stoltz of meeting with experts during this term’s Designmatters course The Healing Trauma Project. “I think they can tell by my cargo shorts,” he adds laughing. “The non-uniform uniform.”
All jokes about conformity aside, one of the main reasons Stoltz signed up for the Graphic Design-hosted transdisciplinary studio is that it dealt with a serious issue—helping veterans learn about a method for treating Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)—and he wanted to represent an actual veteran’s viewpoint.
“I think a lot of people assume the military experience is what you see in movies like American Sniper, very extreme war stories” says Stoltz, who grew up in Mount Airy, NC and served in the Navy for 14 years in a number of photography-related roles, including being an aerial photographer aboard the U.S.S. Harry Truman, and covering stories in Iraq from a soldier’s point of view for the Navy’s Stars and Stripes news agency. “Not every military job involves carrying a rifle. Some veterans worked desk jobs. I carried cameras the whole time I served. I also carried a rifle, but telling stories and capturing moments was my first priority.”