Returning from war is often challenging and a lot of veterans are faced with PTSD.
“But I thought, if I lived through this, I might not want to go back.”
That’s how Vietnam veteran Kell DeVoll, described his time in the war. He served 13 years during one of the most controversial wars in U.S. history.
Serving the country not only took a toll on DeVoll physically, but mentally as well.
“I would rather have cried and quit. But you can’t quit…and you can’t cry. You gotta get ready for the next one,” said Vietnam vet turned artist Kell DeVoll.
After serving his term, it was time to return to normal life.
“When I thought the war was over, when I left, and I wasn’t in it anymore, I thought it was over and I would be able to pick up and move on. ”
But it wasn’t as easy and he thought.
“It wasn’t that I couldn’t let go, it was that it wouldn’t go away. It was always constantly in my face.”
The war left a feeling of disconnect with the rest of society.
“I was numbed out, feeling wise, I had no idea what was going on.”
Then DeVoll came the realization..
“I mean I can’t make any sense of it, I have to accept that.”
Which is when…
“I started building art and I started recognizing certain feelings that were coming out that I didn’t know I had. Ya know, and they were going down into stuff because I was numb.”
DeVoll uses mainly scrap metal and other things to build his pieces. Creating art has been part of the healing process; allowing him to find out things about himself that he didn’t even know was there.
“I felt like I was getting in touch with something and I couldn’t explain it. All that is a cleansing for me, somehow.”
As the U.S. continues to send more troops overseas, we will start to see a new generation of veterans coming back facing similar problems.
DeVoll says as veterans come home, the most important thing is talking about it.
“The biggest problem I had was I wasn’t able to talk about this to anybody and I needed to talk.”
DeVoll continues to make his art out of his shop in a small town in Oregon.
Reporter: Mikenzie Frost