A veteran is turning old army fatigues into art to help himself and other soldiers deal with the after effects of war.
Malachi Muncy joined the National Guard after 9/11. At 18, he said he wasn’t prepared to see death when he was deployed to Iraq.
“I’d seen them get injured, get medevac’d and shrapnel and thinking, ‘Oh that’s what’s going to happen to me,’” said Muncy.
He said he was broken by war and he was also dealing with a war at home.
“While I was in Iraq my mom was institutionalized again,” Muncy said. “My dad died, my wife had tried to commit suicide and we found out she was pregnant.”
Muncy did whatever he could to cope.
“So I started taking sleeping pills just to sort of like zombify, to edge out,” said Muncy.
Then he turned to drugs and alcohol and was afraid to ask for help.
“My biggest concern was well, I’m going to go ask for help and they’re going to kick me out,” Muncy said.
“I ended up in the hospital with an overdose.”
His drug habit chased him back to Iraq and as he hit bottom, he started keeping a journal.
“It started with writing,” Muncy said. “My art started with my writing.”
Then his passion turned to what’s called combat paper.
“It was sort of a meditation,” said Muncy.
It’s paper made out of his shredded uniforms, a canvas to share his conflicts and convictions.
“It speaks to my personal experiences with addiction and that trapped feeling,” Muncy said.
Soldiers tell him that’s how they feel as well.
But Andrea Healy, who is based at Camp Atterbury, said it also speaks to hope and she’s donating some of her uniforms to his new mission.
“So he can share the other uniforms with other veterans and his workshops and continue his service,” said Healy. “And we’ll come up with some great piece of art so that I can use it as a memory.”
Malachi says said favorite piece is called, “Escape.” It’s an image of a soldier crawling out of a pill bottle, showing what’s possible even when it seems like there’s no way out.
“I want to enable other people to share their stories and reclaim their stories,” Muncy said.
Muncy’s combat paper art is currently on display at the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library