by Bianca Silva
(Aug. 22, 2016 Online Version)
Full interview published in Time Magazine (Aug 29, 2016 Edition)
When photographer Balazs Gardi mentioned to army veteran Jose Martinez, 28, how California’s Apple Valley, located on the southern edge of the Mojave Desert, reminded him of Kandahar, Afghanistan, the two instantly clicked. Gardi had spent time shooting servicemen and women there over the years and the two could envision what Kandahar looked like.
“What helped me work with Jose is the understanding of the experience that he went through,” the photographer says.
In 2012, while serving as an infantryman in Afghanistan, Martinez lost his legs, right arm and left index finger after he stepped on a land mine. Upon returning, he took prescription drugs to help him cope with post traumatic stress disorder. The pills took a toll on him as the veteran consumed up to 150 pills per day. “I really had to double check whether he really meant how many pills he took in one day because I did not believe a human could handle that much,” Gardi says. “We’re talking about pills that would easily kill most of us in that dosage and he just basically built up tolerance.”
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