Portrait series aims to pay homage to those who served
By Patrick McCallister
For Veteran Voice
Veterans are all around us. At a glance you might notice them —those that keep the high and tight haircut, or proudly wear ball caps or shirts announcing their service.
Not all are so noticeable.
Phil Galdys, our publisher, sometimes wears a nametag with Veteran Voice when he’s out and about. Folks ask him about it and tell him they’re veterans. Say, a woman Galdys encountered checking out groceries at the store.
“Come to find out, she’s got 20 years in the Navy,” Galdys said. “Here’s somebody who’s an unassuming (grocery store) checkout clerk, and had it not been for her starting our conversation I would have no idea she’s got two decades of experience in the Navy. She shared that with me because I happened to be wearing my name badge. Her average, everyday customer has no idea.
“I think they should. She’s made sacrifices on their behalf. I think there’s a lot of people under our nose who are worthy of being highlighted. If you served our country, that’s reason alone”
That got Galdys thinking. He’s also the staff photographer for Southeast Florida Honor Flight. He has taken thousands of pictures of the men and women from World War II and the Korean War.
“I had a strong desire to do more for not only our veterans from those early wars, but to include those men and women who have served our country since then,” Galdys said.
He lives in Stuart, about 90 miles south of Patrick Air Force Base.
“There are no military bases in our immediate area, so the military and veteran visibility is not as prevalent as it is further north,” he said.
Sure, there are a good number of veteran organizations. Their members, posts, and honor guards do participate in our local ceremonies, parades and other events. They even do a respectable amount of fundraising and volunteering to benefit other charities and community needs.”
But, sometimes that just means they’ve become routine, unnoticed.
“Depending on where they’re located, they may blend into the background,” Galdys said.
Galdys, a Gulf War-era Army veteran, decided to use his photography experience to help tell veterans’ stories to one another, and to the 92 percent of the adult population that’s never been in the military. He launched Portraits of Patriots to do just that.
Galdys simply wants to take portraits of veterans within our communities. Veteran Voice will publish some of those portraits throughout the 2017 calendar year.
Additionally, social media will play a part as the paper develops Facebook and Instagram pages to reach a larger audience and bring more awareness.
All veterans are eligible and there’s no cost to the veteran whatsoever,” Galdys said. “As long as they served and have a DD-214 form they qualify. They can be Retired, Reserve, Guard, or are Active duty personnel — they are eligible.”
Additionally, the participating veterans will get digital copies of the photos.
“The portraits are intended to be more than just snapshots,” Galdys said.
He will set up photo locations throughout each county where the veterans will have their portraits taken against backdrops and studio lighting.
For now, the project is starting on the Treasure Coast, mostly Martin, St. Lucie and Indian River counties. Over time, Galdys will head north with Portraits of Patriots into Brevard, Seminole and Volusia counties.
If you, a family member or a friend has served our great country with military service and wish to be considered, visit www.portraitsofpatriots.com.