WASHINGTON, N.C. (WNCT) — It’s a fight most veterans have that you may not even know about. Suicide.
Ellen Brabo is a local artist and Army veteran who is making it her mission to put a stop to this problem. She spent time in the military capturing images of our brave soldiers, and now she wants to give back.
Her photos are helping to provide resources to veterans to make sure they are not forgotten.
“Photo here was a group of soldiers we were putting through physical fitness training prior to going into be gassed,” said Brabo. “When I was taking this picture of the mortar live picture, was don’t miss the shot. in these live fire shots, there’s only so many rounds of ammunition.”
Brabo might be a Washington local now, but she has captured images around the world. They are currently on display to help other survivors.
“It breaks my heart when you think about the fact that since 2000 125,000 veterans have committed suicide, that doesn’t include active duty service members, and a transitioning service member is five times more likely to commit suicide,” Brabo said.
When you’re in the service, you have this distinct purpose.
“And we know what our community is we know what our role is, re-establishing what that purpose is can take some time. And we need resources like stop soldier suicide, to be able to help our servicemen and women through that transition.”
She not only shot pictures but also lived through this type of transition.
“When I transitioned out, I transitioned out during a pandemic, from overseas, and I moved back to the United States,” Brabo said. “Very quickly found myself isolated and alone without purpose.
“I remember going home to see my parents at Christmas that year. So about six months after I had transitioned. I just knew I couldn’t go back. I am very fortunate in that both of my parents are veterans. And so they had both transitions, but not everybody has that.”
That’s why she opened up her art installment at the Turnage Theater, to help the people who do not have the support.
“I came up with the idea of partnering with the Turnage Theater to host a photo gallery,” Brabo said.
“I’ve lost a lot of friends to suicide, so I wanted a show for Suicide Prevention Month because I think it’s something we all should be talking about,” said Bronté Labbé, Visual Arts and Marketing Director for the Beaufort County Arts Council.
All of the proceeds help stop soldier suicide.
“Stop soldier suicide provides mental health resources, but also lifetime resources,” Labbé said. “They can also connect you to additional resources. So maybe you’re one paycheck away from being evicted or one payment, they can find you the resources you need to make that be the difference.”
Even though she’s no longer telling the soldier’s stories on the battlefield, she’s still fighting for those who have no fight left in them.
“We need to meet them on the side of the mountain before they’re on the cliff,” Brabo said. “The reality is I don’t know what would have happened if I hadn’t had parents that could have been like, ‘No, I’m going to help you.’ Because we don’t have a guarantee that every transitioning service member has a family to go home to that they have a home to go to. And we’ve we’ve got to start meeting them on the mountain.”
The art installation will be open until Sunday. Photos are available to view and purchase. There is a silent auction for bids with all of the proceeds going to stop soldier suicide.