Journal of Rehabilitation Research & Development (JRRD)

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JRRD Cover Art Winner 2011,
Bob Loewer

Bob Loewer

A gamble to have his friends choose his entry into the Bay Pines Veterans’ Creative Arts Festival recently paid off for Army Veteran Bob Loewer of Venice, Florida. As forecasted by his friends, Loewer won the gold medal in the color photography division for Arches—a color photograph of the lower archways of Fort Jefferson, the largest U.S. coastal fort of the 19th century located in the Florida Keys.

Composed in the Chiaroscuro style, the two-dimensional image seemingly appears three dimensional through its use of light and shadow. Snapped on Loewer’s first unaccompanied excursion in nearly six years, the photograph represents an important victory in his ongoing recovery from posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

"I had recently purchased a camera and was challenging myself to fight the PTSD symptoms of avoiding contact and exposure," said Loewer. "So I used the latent but slowly emerging interest in photography to try to offset my reluctance to leave the house and travel alone."

Loewer is a medically retired software developer who spends his time honing his craft. "I have been taking pictures for two years," explained Loewer. "I have not had formal training but have taught myself by doing and by reading Internet blogs frequented by experienced photographers."

Bob LoewerConfident in his ability, he now shares his talent with other Veterans. With the help of his counseling group, he donates artwork to Veterans in local nursing homes and hospitals through the Web site PhotosForVets.org. Loewer shoots, prints, and mounts the photographs, while his partners provide the printing supplies.

"So far we have donated more than 250 13" x 19" photos to two institutions and are arranging more," said Loewer. "Since I have begun showing my photos to Veterans, I have learned that many PTSD Veterans find that vivid imagery is a welcome distraction from intrusive thoughts."

Arches is one of five pieces to be featured on the 2012 covers of JRRD. The featured artwork was chosen from hundreds of entries in local talent competitions for Veterans receiving care from the Department of Veterans Affairs’ national healthcare system. The journal staff narrowed the selection to 18 entries and forwarded them to the 65-member JRRD Editorial Board for final selection.

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