Michael McCoy did two tours in Iraq. He also experienced a stay at Walter Reed Army Hospital. Until that moment, photography had been a hobby of sorts, a personal habit that played a minor role in his life. But all that changed once he transitioned home.
McCoy often took photos in Iraq and sent them home for his family and friends or used them as a moral booster for his Battle Buddies.
Photography now serves another purpose for him: an escape.
McCoy suffers from post traumatic stress (PTS), and taking photos has helped him process his time in the army. "It provided me an outlet to take the edge off of past experiences, trauma from Iraq, stressors. It allowed me to be in my own little world. It gave me a better voice. It's teaching me to be a little more careful. It teaches me to observe more," he says. "The only thing that comes across my mind when I have that camera in my hands is escaping the memories of being in a combat zone."
McCoy wants his photography to educate people about PTS. "Society has painted a picture that PTS isn't real, and that it doesn't have a face," he says. "These are wounds that aren't really visible. I want to bring awareness to the public. Just because someone looks good on the outside doesn't mean they're not hurting on the inside."
McCoy struggles daily with his trauma. "It's something that just doesn't go away. It's a fight that you're going to live with for the rest of your life." But without his photography focus, he says he might not be here today.