Lauren Johnson

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Lauren Johnson

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My essay "Inheritance of War" follows my evolving perspective on military homecomings: from welcoming my mother, an Army nurse, home from Saudi Arabia as a seven-year-old, to coordinating monthly Operation Homecoming celebrations as an Air Force public affairs officer, to my own redeployment following a nine month tour in Afghanistan. This essay was originally published in Drunken Boat literary journal: "Folio: Leaving Home, Coming Home, and Finding Home in Between." Drunken Boat. December 15, 2016. Vol. 24. It is also featured in the anthology "It's My Country Too: Women's Military Stories from the American Revolution to Afghanistan" (Potomac Books: July 1, 2017)--if selected, I would like the book to be available for purchase.

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HISTORY

Left behind the military and contracting work to focus on my art and finish my art degree two years ago. I have received a lot of recognition for my work. The submitted piece has gone viral on Facebook and was invited to the USS Intrepid in New York for Fleet Week and Memorial Day weekend. It has a very large and positive impact in the veteran community especially.

COPING THROUGH ART

I've always turned to writing as a means of expression and understanding, and it proved a critical outlet after my deployment to Afghanistan. I struggled with readjustment back to "normal" life and felt guilty for struggling because I didn't have a traditional combat-focused tour. Writing helped me purge my experiences, made them tangible and easier to process, and enabled me to begin to intellectualize what I'd been through. Ultimately, as I started sharing my writing, it also connected me to others who'd endured similar things. As shame researcher Brené Brown says, "The two most powerful words when we're in struggle: me too.”