DENVER — Josh Kuehl didn't know he'd be receiving the Fox31 Serving Those Who Serve July Hero of the Month award, but when you hear about his continued dedication to the military, it's easy to see why he was chosen.
As a West Point graduate and former captain in the U.S. Army, his accomplishments speak for themselves. His service to his country doesn't stop there.
His non-profit continues to help veterans using the art of photography. Kuehl knows still photography is an art that can have a powerful effect.
“If someone learns art therapy, they're having a moment, they are kind of triggered, they can't just whip out a canvas and dial up some paints to deal with it. A camera, you clip it on and you're ready to rock and roll,” Kuehl said.
This is what he tells veterans that come to him to help deal with their triggers.
“Your formative years are spent in a very set culture, with very set ideas and norms, and you enter into civilian life thinking these are the norms of the world, and they're not,” Kuehl said.
The camera lens becomes a veil: something to hide behind to help ease the transition back into civilian life.
“We like to call it our invisibility shield,” Kuehl said. “You're in a social situation, you're uncomfortable and you put up the camera…you just disappear into the room.”
This is the appeal of a non-profit Kuehl co-founded three years ago. It's called “Task Force: ISO.” The “iso” in the name is a photography term that refers to the sensitivity of the camera sensor. They re-purposed the acronym ISO to stand for imaging, support and outreach.
Imaging stands for the work Task Force: ISO does to support veteran non-profits across the country by going to their events and taking photos. The organization makes sure they put out a positive image of veterans and also give those veterans a positive image of themselves.
The support side comes from teaching how to take good pictures and using that skill to help ease anxiety, and it helps them to know they're taking photos of other veterans.
The final part of the program is outreach: connecting veterans to organizations that serve special interests.
Kuehl understands firsthand it takes a veteran to understand a veteran.
He joined the infantry right out of high school with the army. A year in, Kuehl was admitted to the prestigious West Point from within the army. He was then commissioned into the U.S. Cavalry as a captain
It's no coincidence Kuehl pursues what could be considered an appendage of the work he did while in the military, he says the motivation is still the same.
“Being a West Point grad, one of the things that they kind of pounded in our heads was take care of your soldiers, always take care of your soldiers...so this, is kind of an extension of that…this is my calling,” Kuehl said.
As part of his Hero of the Month recognition, Kuehl also received a $750 Visa gift card thanks to our sponsors Rocky Mountain Honda dealers, the Leo Hill Charitable Trust and the Colorado Veteran's Project.
As a non-profit, Kuehl says they are always looking for donations and former veteran professional photographers to help teach.
Check out the Task Force: ISO website for more information.
To nominate a veteran, active duty service member, volunteer or military family member for our Hero of the Month honors, click here.