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DENVER — When nothing else helped Marla Keown, photography did.

“And as soon as I picked up the still camera I fell in love and I never looked back,” Keown told FOX31.

Keown has been chosen as the FOX 31 Serving Those Who Serve Hero of the Month for June 2019.

Long before she picked up photography, the Army veteran was a truck driver in Iraq.

“And as a truck driver you were just a moving target,” she said.

One day, a mechanical problem with her truck delayed her entire convoy.

“And the convoy next to us took off instead.  I remember we were driving getting close to Baghdad and the convoy that had taken our spot had gotten hit, and all we could do was just keep on going past so we wouldn’t get hurt ourselves.  And it took lots of years to like realize that wasn’t my fault.  It’s not an easy thing to have to live with,” she said.

That guilt led to a realization.  She has PTSD, or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

“And I was like, ‘That’s silly, I’m a girl, girls don’t get PTSD, girls don’t go to combat, girls don’t see those things to have PTSD,'” she said.

Years of therapy have helped, but a photojournalism class is what really made her turn a corner.

“I don’t know how or why, but whenever I put the camera up to my face, being around big crowds, it wasn’t intimidating and I wasn’t having my panic attacks,” Keown said.

She takes pictures of everything, but her favorite photos show people enjoying each other, and enjoying life.  Finally, joy is a feeling she can relate to.

“But I never would’ve been able to do it without all the therapy and the camera,” she said.

For her bravery in treating her condition, and finding an innovative approach in her treatment, we’ve named her the FOX31 Serving Those Who Serve Hero of the Month for June.

Along with a plaque, she’s the first recipient of a $750 gift card, courtesy of our Serving Those Who Serve sponsors, Rocky Mountain Honda Dealers, The Leo Hill Charitable Trust, and Colorado Veteran’s Project.

To nominate a veteran, active duty service member, volunteer or family member for our July Hero of the Month honors, click here.