Not at Ease

Wisconsin Veterans Museum


Chicken Mines

Artist: Nicole Shaver

Veteran: Elizabeth B., US ARMY

When Beth and I talked, she explained working on a bridge at Brčko on the Sava River during the Bosnian War in one of the Engineer units. She described the river as very eerie with no recreational or commercial boats as the area was taped off with warning signs for known landmine areas.  Along the river were apartment buildings that let chickens and dogs roam along the river in a known landmine area. Beth described, “The intent was to keep locals in place, not working, not transporting food/necessities and to instill fear. Civilians were the target as much as other armies.  We were instructed over and over not to pick up anything on the ground or streets. “If you didn’t put it down, don’t pick it up!””

A Weekly Reminder of Honor

Artist: Yvette M. Pino

Veteran: Mary K., US NAVY

To capture a military career that spans 28 years is a daunting task. It would do that career a disservice to attempt to sum it up in one piece of artwork. I enjoyed a long conversation with Mary and the most recurring theme was that of Mary’s pride in the Navy and its personnel. One particular statement stood out to me. She mentioned that during her time at Great Lakes Naval Training Center she was required to attend the graduating ceremony of the new recruits each week. I said, “That must have been exhausting- not to mention repetitive.” And Mary responded, without missing a beat, “NO! In fact it was the complete opposite. Each week a new set of young men and women were fulfilling the commitment they had to made to serve their country. That ceremony represented the first step in a young Naval career.”  Some people say these words to sound patriotic. Mary, however, is significantly genuine when she discusses this topic. Thus, the image in this print is taken from an actual photograph from a Navy Graduation Ceremony at Great Lakes Naval Training Center. After listening to Mary’s story, my creative instincts led me to ideas of energy and movement juxtaposed with documentary characteristics.  

Strangers and Cupcakes

Artist: Jonas Angelet

Veteran: Shari F., US NAVY

After reading through several blog posts of my collaborator, Shari, about the ten-year anniversary of the September 11 attacks, I began to develop a series of images for the Veteran Print Project. I was intrigued about a particular passage that she asks a simple question: Do you know your neighbor?” She went on to explain that in a world where we are increasingly reliant on technology-based meet and greets, that perhaps we should go out and meet the community members around us. This particular quote stuck with me:

I encourage you to know your neighbor, go and say hello.  Know their name.  Bring them sweets once in a while.  I think in this day and age a sense of community is what everyone needs.” 

I wanted to illustrate an exchange of “sweets” in the form of a giant symbolic cupcake between two anonymous neighbors. I was drawn to this quote because it focused less on her military experience and more on the sense of building a “community” around her, her neighborhood and the country at large. The images are fairly simple renderings of people standing near their homes and engaging in a form of greeting where no one person has more influence than the other. This is meant to symbolize the work that “everyone” can do to communicate with the people and society around us all.  

Esprit de Corps

Artist: Greg Luckeroth

Veteran: Linda O., USMC

My print titled Esprit de Corps depicts two events that contribute to the high level of camaraderie that is shared in the Marine Corps.  Esprit de Corps is a Latin phrase, meaning spirit of the corps, which the Marines have adopted to describe what sets them apart from all the other armed forces.  My print shows some of the intense gas chamber training that Marines’ experience.  The Marine in my print is clearing her gas mask of toxic gas.  Another custom that develops camaraderie in the Marine Corps is the celebration of the Marine Corps birthday.  Every year on the 10th of November, Marines celebrate the birth of their Corps by following a set of traditions that have been passed down for years, including a cake-cutting ceremony.  


Artists: Kathryn Kloehn and Jamie Gutkowski

Veteran: Kelly M.*, Army National Guard

“I grew a lot in the military. It helped mold me into who I am today and I will always be thankful for that.”

Our inspiration came from Kelly’s sincerity and self-confidence as she shared her experiences. We were struck by so many facets of her story that it was difficult to begin our print, but what we discovered was we could not let go of the above quote. Kelly served as the first person soldiers saw before heading to Iraq or Afghanistan as well as the last person they saw before heading home. In this role, she witnessed many beginnings and endings and connected with so many people. It was very clear to us that Kelly was part of a unique network of support—with her family, her unit, and the thousands of soldiers she met. She grew up with a father in the military and later, she and her three sisters served. While in Kuwait, Kelly met the man that would become her husband. Growth. Beginnings and Endings. Family. These were the concepts that inspired our print. It is an attempt to represent not only a single person, but also those that helped her grow along the way

*The Sisters

Four prints in this portfolio document the stories of sisters who all served in the military at different times and branches of service. Thus, they will always be sisters in arms as well as sisters in blood. Their father is a veteran as well. As a family unit they have served their country as well as their state. For this, they should be commended.

1,000 Cranes

Artist: Yvette M. Pino

Veteran: Carolyn M., USAF

We all think about the troops leaving their families when they deploy. The story that is rarely told is that of the personnel whose job it is to provide the moral and welfare to them when they are away. As a Moral Welfare and Recreation (MWR) specialist, Carolyn provided comfort, happiness and helpful distraction to the deployed troops in the Gulf War. Her smile never showed the reality—that when called to do her duty, she left an infant and a toddler behind. I tried to capture the essence of a mother pulled from her children for service to her country. Prior to her deployment, Carolyn served in Japan. This print sits upon a piece of Japanese paper with an image of the traditional Japanese Crane. The crane represents longevity, luck, good health and honor. From her hands, the cranes are being release to the children.

How Can We Tell If They’re Wounded or Just Menstruating?

Artist: Kendall Helland

Veteran: Veteran requested anonymity, US ARMY

This veteran was born in Wisconsin in 1959. She went into the Army in 1976, inspired by Kennedy’s “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country” speech. Once in the Army, she trained as a medic. At night the women soldiers slept with weapons. She got shipped overseas to Germany, where she stayed in an old Nazi barracks. After her active duty ended, she joined the Army Reserves. Here she had traumatic experience of sexual harassment with a supervising sergeant. When her time with the reserves was over she moved to Phoenix to do polling and market research. She went back to school in 2002 and graduated from the University of Wisconsin in 2006. The mix of positive and negative experiences while in the military are reflected in the devils and angels that surround the veteran.

South Korea

Artist: Maren Munoz

Veteran: Kristine Z., US ARMY

Talking to Kristine about her service was a great experience for me. I was really interested in the way she thinks about the experience.  As I interpreted it, she thinks about her service as one small facet of who she is as a person. It does not define her, but it is an experience that has greatly affected her life in many different ways. 

This print is inspired by her job as a linguist, analyzing intercepted communications from North Korea, as well as her exploration of Korean culture. Her position as a linguist seemed to give her the confidence to venture out into the city and countryside, perhaps more so than others.  I was impressed by her adventurousness.  This exploration of Korean culture and cuisine seemed to be one of the most memorable things about her experience, and it gave me a good jumping off point for this print.  This print is very loosely based on my favorite story she told me where she traveled to a restaurant way out in the country for a very memorable meal with some Korean friends.  This print is based on that experience, but it also draws on more general images of Korean culture and folk art. 

At This Hour

Artist: Tyler Green

Veteran: Vera R. USAF

At a given hour, in a given moment, the chaos of our lives can be distilled and explained by a small thing. The explanation is not always in words; it can be in scent, or color. A desert in war is a bleak colorless place, a pale place. But, as winter allows us to understand the beauty of spring, the pale desert lets us understand the beauty of simple doorways painted turquoise and lavender. We know through the mundane and the terrible, of the beauty and the sublime.


Artist: Patrick Smyczek

Veteran: Amy C., US Air Force

Months ago I was fortunate to have a discussion with Amy about her involvement in the Air Force.  She was stationed in Ramstein, Germany from 2005-2008.  During her deployment she was able to take weekend trips to explore parts of Europe.  As it turns out, I happened to be in Germany around the same time.  It was also a great coincidence that we both visited the Heidelberg Castle.  So I decided to make a print based on an image of the Heidelberg Castle as a reflection of Amy’s experience with the Air Force in Germany. 

The Push

Artist: Yvette M. Pino
Veteran: Yvette P., US Army

On March 21, 2003 over 200 vehicles crossed the Kuwait/Iraq border in a convoy headed into a war zone. This was the initial “push” of troops into Iraq for Operation Iraqi Freedom. Our convoy, filled with support staff was a day behind each major battle. As we journeyed through each landmark, I remember seeing the remnants of a battle from the night before. On buildings were unit crests and division symbols emblazoned in spray paint upon burning buildings and destroyed vehicles. I learned later that this was done as verification that an area had been cleared. I wrote a letter home describing what I saw and my thoughts of what must have gone through a young soldier’s mind when he/she tagged these spots. Pride was felt, I’m sure, but I also believe this was a symbolic metaphor for someone’s loss of innocence – a right of passage into a hardened new existence.


Artist: Drew Iwaniw

Veteran: Tegan G., USMC

Speaking with Aviation Maintenance Administration Specialist Tegan G. about her time in the service I was inspired by her positive attitude despite the many challenges and obstacles she has faced in Wartime and at home.  She spoke highly of her time in the Marines and made lifelong friendships.   I made a woodcut from a photo she sent me that depicts her positive outlook.


Artist: Arielle Altenburg

Veteran: Julie M., Air National Guard

Julie’s ambition and spunk prompted her success in the Air National Guard. On multiple occasions, she was tested to prove herself fit and capable and more often than not she prevailed. Although many anecdotes that Julie shared demonstrate her fierceness and perseverance, I found a certain event to be particularly emotional and arduous. Julie described her arrival to Iraq as one of the most anxiety-ridden experiences: the area was being mortared, so they landed the plane incredibly fast, resulting in the tires catching aflame (Hotbreaks). As the only female of 400 soldiers on the plane, Julie had to wait alone anxiously in a basketball court for seven hours after they landed. She admits, “They weren’t expecting a female.

*The Sisters

Four prints in this portfolio document the stories of sisters who all served in the military at different times and branches of service. Thus, they will always be sisters in arms as well as sisters in blood. Their father is a veteran as well. As a family unit they have served their country as well as their state. For this, they should be commended.


The Missing Part

Artist: Brittany Kieler

Veteran: Jamie M.*, US Air Force

During one point in her service with the US Air Force, Jamie worked twelve-hour night shifts in a warehouse that held many of the parts the mechanics used. She told me there was a lot of turnover in the warehouse- that different people were coming and going throughout her deployment, and it was always difficult to pick up where the last group had left off when it came to organizing all the equipment. She told me about a time when one particularly expensive and very important part went missing, disappearing somewhere amongst the abyss of other airplane parts. When she told me the story, I didn’t ask what part she and her crew had been looking for or whether they found it. I imagined the moment of success, what the soldiers might have envisioned while they were sorting through part after part. With years between her life now and her time in the service, I wonder which Jamie remembers more clearly — the search for the part, the part itself, or the outcome of the search.

*The Sisters

Four prints in this portfolio document the stories of sisters who all served in the military at different times and branches of service. Thus, they will always be sisters in arms as well as sisters in blood. Their father is a veteran as well. As a family unit they have served their country as well as their state. For this, they should be commended.

Dorrie’s Tree of Life

Artist:  Kris Broderick

Veteran: Dorothy C., US ARMY

The title of this project is “NOT AT EASE.”  When a soldier is “not at ease,” they are “at attention” working to keep us safe – protecting our lives.  Captain Dorothy Carskadon may not be on active duty at this time but she is definitely NOT AT EASE. She is working very hard to help soldiers and their families make the transition to civilian life after suffering the pains of war.

Trees are symbols of transition.  The roots represent past events that form us, the trunk represents the present time and the branches are the future possibilities and goals that reach out. Trees are stable yet flexible. I imagine Dorrie’s life like a tree, strong and sure, helpful and positive, and in her words, “better not bitter.”  I chose an oak tree because they are symbolic of strength, wisdom, loyalty and honor. The four oak leaves represent the four words she lives by (live, love, laugh, and dream); they also represent the four bullets that she took at Fort Hood in 2009. Leaves fall to the ground to nourish the tree just as all of Dorrie’s experiences have nourished her life and the lives of everyone she has sheltered and touched.

In the Light You Will Find the Road

Artist: Yvette M. Pino

Veteran: Jennifer G., US ARMY

Jennifer G. served in the Military Police in Kosovo in 1999. Part of her day-to-day operations was to patrol through the rolling green countryside as well as through the trash-laden villages. Throughout their missions, her team found and secured weapon caches as well as mass gravesites. They assisted in the search for missing persons as well as the apprehension and detention of enemy personnel. This print is a graphic abstraction of the experiences Jennifer described

*The Sisters

Four prints in this portfolio document the stories of sisters who all served in the military at different times and branches of service. Thus, they will always be sisters in arms as well as sisters in blood. Their father is a veteran as well. As a family unit they have served their country as well as their state. For this, they should be commended.


“die Gündische Worte”

Artist: Sara Wrzesinski

Veteran: Gundel M., US ARMY

Informed by Gundel’s written history of her career in the Army. The most striking were her descriptions of situations she experienced. The quotes in the poster represent her strength in personality and her dedication to her job. Above all else, she wanted it done right and she wasn’t going to take it any other way.

Connie WWII

Yvette M. Pino

Veteran: Connie A., US Marine Corps


Annette WWII

Artist: Ella Schroeder

Veteran: Anette H., US Marine Corps