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Instructors and commanders give a round of applause to Marines graduating the F-stop Warrior Project, an introductory photography class aboard Camp Pendleton, Calif., Dec. 4. The 12-week class gives skills and therapy to Wounded Warrior Battalion West Marines transitioning into the civilian world.

Photo by Cpl. Scott Reel

F-stop project gives Wounded Warriors skills for the future

17 Dec 2013 | Cpl. Scott Reel

Lt. Col. Joseph T. Allena, commanding officer of Wounded Warrior Battalion West, graduated 15 Marines from the F-stop Warrior Project, aboard Camp Pendleton, Calif., Dec. 4.

The F-stop Warrior Project, an introductory photography class is comprised of Marines assigned to the battalion and equips them with valuable skills they can utilize in the civilian world.

“I am a photographer as a hobby, but my work pails in comparison to what you gentlemen and ladies have accomplished,” Allena said. “I look at the work from the F-stop program, and it is amazing.”

Photos taken by the wounded Marines are available for purchase and have been sold and hung in recognizable places.

“The photos of these Marines have been hung in the state house, adorned the lobby of a congressman’s office, and are being bought at a high price by the civilian population,” Allena said. 

Terence Ford, instructor for the F-stop Project at the Wounded Warrior Battalion, has taught the 12-week class for over a year.

“It’s really about the Marine Corps world and the civilian world meeting through the medium of digital photography,” Ford said.

Many of the Marines are different after returning from combat, having different interests and search for a passion. 

“We see Marines that come back from combat and they’ll say the things that used to provide entertainment just don’t have it anymore,” Allena said. “They look for something that will fill that void or spark that interest to get them active. For many of the graduates, they’ll tell you honestly that photography has accomplished that for them.”

Photography is as much a skill as it is therapeutic for many of the Marines also working through post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injuries.

“I also think, and this is an unsubstantiated claim, that the class helps with the students’ PTSD and TBIs, which just about everyone in this building in one way or another been touched by.”
Ford said he didn’t know anything about the Marine Corps prior to teaching the F-stop program but now has a personal, sincere relationship with the Marines he instructs.

“I have to thank Terence, our instructor here, who doesn’t have to be here; he wants to be here,” Allena said. “He’s very passionate about helping our Marines and teaching them the art of photography.”

Ford hugged and shook the hand of every Marine that received a diploma, proud of their success and ready to begin another class in 2014.