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Fri, Aug. 23

Homeless veteran photographs homeless people in Prescott region

Les Stukenberg/The Daily Courier<br>
Photographer Brad Messervy, right, works on a photo project documenting homeless veterans at the Open Door Food Kitchen at the Center for Compassion and Justice in Prescott Friday morning.

Les Stukenberg/The Daily Courier<br> Photographer Brad Messervy, right, works on a photo project documenting homeless veterans at the Open Door Food Kitchen at the Center for Compassion and Justice in Prescott Friday morning.

Brad Messervy has been homeless in the Prescott area for the last five years and often sleeps in the forest, which he says he loves. Messervy chooses to be homeless out of a love for the lifestyle and the freedom it affords him.

"I've always had people dependent on me for this that and the other thing. Now nobody does," Messervy said. "It's the first real freedom I've known in my life."

He's also a veteran of the U.S. Navy and an accomplished photographer. Using two digital Canon cameras and a laptop with Photoshop installed in it, Messervy has traveled throughout the quad-city area for his art.

Messervy photographs traditional landscapes, including two works on display at the Prescott U.S. Vets office, and also uses color filters and "paints with light."

He's recently joined with U.S. Vets to photograph homeless residents, many of them veterans, in the area. The project, still in its early stages, is designed to document the variety and scope of the area's homeless population.

"I've wanted to do an expose on homeless people for as long as I've been here," Messervy said.

The project, he said, hasn't been all that easy. He's encountered a number of individuals who flat out refuse to be photographed, he said. He is, however, working with an individual who may enroll in the U.S. Vets rehabilitation program in the coming weeks. Messervy plans to capture his journey through the program on film.

"What we're trying to do is capture what you go through as a homeless person, the soup lines, guys taking classes, people at the career center looking for jobs," Messervy said.

While much of his time is spent in the forest, he also keeps a storage unit, which is where he gets most of his computer-related work done.

"I think a lot of people don't really understand homelessness," Messervy said. "They think everyone who is homeless is a drunk and that they've just totally dropped out. That's a good percentage, but there are other people that are homeless too. We have a lot of homeless veterans that are on disability."

Prescott U.S. Vets Executive Director Annette Olson said the photography project would offer an opportunity to exhibit and show what the local veteran program does.

"We have the opportunity to show that we're not a shelter, but a program," Olson said. "A lot of people think that we are a part of the VA or that we're just a shelter. What we do is offer supportive services on how to become independent in your life and how to overcome some of the barriers that are causing people to become homeless in the first place."

The photographs will also illustrate what it's like to be homeless in the area, what it's like to go through the program, and how people fare after the program.

"Brad has a perspective no one else has, that people might not be aware of when it comes to the homeless situation here, and his ability to get the photos and stories from people are things that we wouldn't be able to get," she said. "He will add an authenticity to the project and that authenticity will come through in the photographs."

For more information on U.S. Vets, visit them online at www.usvetsinc.org/prescott.

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