by Josh Bernstein
As with all toys, I feel that there is a universality associated with them. They are mass produced on an assembly line from chunks of plastic, and I feel that this statement mirrors our country’s military bootcamps as well. Drill sergeants mold untrained individual civilians into a tactical, fighting, and courageous force ready to be deployed into areas of the world which in turn will produce war hardened soldiers after various periods of time.
I am drawn to this universality of the plastic toy soldier, and by using these figures as my subject matter, it allows me the ability to represent combat veterans living with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. I feel that PTSD is a psychological epidemic plaguing our armed forces as they return from their deployments. It has been called many things throughout the various wars including "Shell Shock", "Battle Fatigue", "Operational Exhaustion", and most recently diagnosed as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
The Toy Soldiers series represents combat veterans coping with the internal struggle and psychological conflict many of them face upon their return from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Their journey integrating back into the civilian life can be difficult. Spousal abuse, suicide, murder, flashbacks, and nightmares are only a few examples of the various symptoms these soldiers face due to PTSD. This series represents some of the turmoil associated with this post-combat condition.