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Marine uses art to deal with horrors of war, unexpectedly wins program at Gettysburg

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Marine Corps combat veteran Nick Collier has lost many friends. He served in Afghanistan in 2004-2005 with 3/3 and was struggling to deal with the aftermath of war.

“That kind of stuff weighs on you,” said Collier, “It’s a lot to deal with.”

Collier picked up his journey as an artist to cope with the struggling feelings; he’d once been an avid artist, but left it behind to focus on his military career. After he left the Corps, he earned an art degree from George Mason University and a master of fine arts from Florida State University, according to Stripes.

Eventually, Collier now 36, was the first vet chosen for the artist-in-residence program at Gettysburg National Military Park in Pennsylvania.

“Art in general has helped me. It’s a way for me to work through some things … move on from things you do in war that aren’t permissible in society.”

Collier set up his homemade camera — comprised of oak, steel and brass — and took photos of things that most people miss.

“Gettysburg inspires so much passion in our visitors today, and the artists-in-residence are providing new connections to people from all walks of life,” said Ed W. Clark, superintendent of the park. “Our artist-in-residence programs are engaging new audiences and connecting with visitors through the power and the passion of art.”

Collier will wrap up his residency on Saturday with a “meet the artist” event and display at the Gettysburg National Military Park Museum and Visitor Center. He hopes other veterans follow and apply to join one of the 18 various residency programs available.

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