Photographer offers veterans a free service

March 08, 2019 01:28 PM

COLONIE – In the members' room at the Zaloga VFW Post on Everett Road in Colonie, a Navy veteran wore an Army jacket just to keep him warm. He didn't mind. An Air National Guard Medical Flight Nurse wore a pink shirt for breast cancer awareness. Both smiled for the camera. She said, "This is so nice of you to do this..."

The man on the other end of the lens responded: "It keeps me focused and motivated." He is also a veteran. Stephen Willette, 39, is capturing veterans from all around the state of New York for his "Faces of Veterans" project.

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"Originally, I had said all 62 counties, approximately 838,000 veterans within a year, but I recanted that really quick because obviously, it's not going to be done in a year," Willette said, adding (hopefully) "So it's a two-year project."

It began in November in Saratoga County during a discussion with the county's Veterans Peer-to-Peer Mentoring Program. He would go on to photograph 65 veterans in Saratoga County.

"It's really about connecting with the veteran community," said Willette, who joined the Air Force in April 2001. He was medically discharged in January 2017 after being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Now he found a way to give back, working with American Legions, VFW Posts, any veterans' organization. The photos are in black and white, taken for free.

"Black and white I think tends to show the character a lot of an individual, it shows some detail and it draws the features of that individual, it draws them out," said Willette.

To make an appointment: (518) 350-3119, or go to

"This whole project can't happen without the veteran," Willette said.


WNYT Staff

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