Kelly West
Multimedia Photojournalist

I'm the Texas transplant on this project, and I drove an incredibly indirect 5000 miles in order to get to Republic, Washington this summer. I'm a multimedia photojournalist, which means (at the moment) that I take still pictures, shoot videos, record audio, and try to think of creative ways to make you want to look at it online. I love my job because it means I get to ask a lot of questions, learn new things, meet amazing people, and sometimes even take cool pictures. I also love listening to music, drumming on the steering wheel, laughing at inappropriate volumes in movie theaters, making to do lists of things I've already done, and eating food with melted cheese on it. I hope you enjoy the work we're doing here.

Children Left Behind
Wives Left Behind
Mothers Left Behind
Soldiers Before Citizens
One of the Guys
This is Our Freedom

Sky Top View

A snow-topped peak in Sherman's Pass. Photo by: Kelly West

There's not much that will get me out of bed before 6am, but flying in a prop plane over the mountains is one of them. As part of an introductory video we are producing for our website, I gave myself the very "difficult" job of riding in a tiny Cessna airplane over northeast Washington and shooting stills and video of the landscape.

Goin' up!

Pilot Justin Smith, of Republic, Washington. Photo by David Miller

One central character in our stories--the land-- has been fairly inconspicuous over the last few weeks in our posts. We're all focusing so much of our attention on veterans, their families, outreach workers, and the people in the community that it might not seem as though the land is so critical to our story. But it is. It's why these people are here, and it's why we're here. 

Family fills the gap

Rayna Cawston gets a break while niece Thea carries Antya.  Photo by: Kelly West

During the weekend my colleague Kelly West and I spent some time with Rayna Cawston and her extended family. Rayna, who lives on the Confederated Tribes of Colville Reservation in Coulee Dam, deeply felt her husband Open in LightBox Justin's absence when he went to Iraq.

Veterans' Story Day

Percy Faison | Portrait by: AJ Chavar

Finding A Community

Hollenbeck passes a sign up sheet for NCW Blue Star Mothers. Photo by:Kelly West

I really try not to cry when I'm working. Party because I think its a little unprofessional, and partly because it makes it hard to focus my camera. During this project, though, people share such personal and emotional experiences with you that sometimes its hard not to. Last night was definitely one of those moments.