Brittany Grippi served six years in the U.S. Navy as an aviation ordnanceman, maintaining missiles and bombs aboard the USS Carl Vinson Nimitz-class supercarrier.
Jennifer Wiese served as a civil affairs specialist in the U.S. Army Special Operations Command during the 2003 Iraq war.
Belinda Miller describes herself as an introverted middle child, yet she’s served in both in the U.S. Army and the U.S. Navy.
These three are among six Rochester women who took part in Eyes Front, a new photography and writing program for women combat veterans. Conducted by Flower City Arts Center in partnership with the Rochester Vet Center, the 12-week program took place this spring to empower women veterans to discover and share their stories. Out of it came the book “First Light” and an exhibition, which can be seen at Image City Photography Gallery on 722 University Ave. until Sept. 1.
“We decided we wanted to offer a program for women veterans specifically because they often feel invisible,” Turner says. “This gave them an opportunity to talk about whatever they wanted to.”
Instructor and program organizer Megan Charland, director of photography and digital arts at Flower City, comes from a military family; her grandfather, and many of her uncles and cousins, have served.
It took the team two years to raise the $15,000 to launch Eyes Front. Funders included the Rochester Area Community Foundation; a Humanities New York Action Grant supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities; Women’s Club of Pittsford; Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church in Alexandria, Va.; and Puffin Foundation West, LTD. Film was donated by Kodak Alaris. Flower City is soliciting donations to repeat the program next year.