As Veterans Day approaches, the entire country stops to recognize all those who have fought and are still fighting. This is exactly what photographer Lisa Petz is doing with the Military Heroes of NEPA 2014 calendar.
Petz was motivated to start this project after meeting veteran Staff Sgt. Earl Granville. She heard his story and was inspired by what he had gone through.
On his third tour in Afghanistan in 2008, Granville was the sole survivor of a roadside bomb. He was ejected from his vehicle and survived with the loss of one of his legs. In December 2010, two and a half years later, Granville’s brother, Staff Sgt. Joseph Granville, took his own life, which Earl believes was due to post-traumatic stress.
Granville says that his brother was his number one fan. In honor of Joe, Granville is spreading his brother’s message to “be the best you can be.”
Granville was not only inspired by his brother, but also the message of the St. Francis Commons, to help homeless veterans through assisted living residences, to take part in the Military Heroes of NEPA project.
“I never realized this was a problem. It’s a wonderful cause,” Granville expressed.
After meeting other veterans, Petz was excited to start taking their portraits, though she didn’t know any of them prior to creating the calendar. But after hearing all of their inspiring stories, she now feels a personal connection.
“I believe everything happens for a reason,” Petz said about meeting the 13 local military heroes.
Retired Lieutenant Colonel Sid Prejean, who gave Petz legal advice on the calendar project and was also featured as one of the heroes, spoke highly of the other veterans.
“All of the men and women featured in this calendar are real military heroes and stellar human beings,” Prejean said.
All of the proceeds from the sales of the calendar will benefit St. Francis Commons. Petz has never worked with this organization before, but loves the idea that they are a transitional housing unit for homeless veterans being built right in Scranton.
In the future, she hopes to continue to produce the calendar annually and work with other charities to help veterans.
“I think it’s more fun to donate to different charities,” Petz explained.
In addition to the proceeds from the calendar sales, there will also be an event on Nov. 1 at the Hilton Scranton & Conference Center from 6-8 p.m. with a balloon launch at the military memorial on Courthouse Square in downtown Scranton starting at 5:30 p.m.
The balloons being released will be tied to notes with the Military Heroes of NEPA 2014 Facebook page and well wishes to those currently serving. Petz hopes that the people who find the balloons will go to the Facebook page and write where they found the balloon and who it was for.
A meet and greet with the 13 veterans will be held after the launch, starting at 6 p.m. Attendees will be able to hear the vets’ inspirational stories and ask questions; there will be basket raffles and food and drink specials.
On Nov. 2, TLC at Northeastern Rehab will sponsor a 5K walk/run and will donate proceeds to the calendar project. The cost is $20 per person, and paid registrations will receive a custom designed t-shirt. For more information or to sign up for the 5K, contact 570.558.7293, ext. 1.
“I thought it would be a little project, but it turned into something bigger,” Petz noted excitedly.