"Artistic Tools" Recipients


Joel Klobnak (May 2011)
I joined the Marines when I was 17 back on July 20, 2004.  I graduated a year early so I could join with my brother.  My first deployment was August 13, 2005 when I was stationed at Camp Pendleton with 1st LAR (Light Armored Reconnaissance).  I was a driver at the time.  About 2 months into my deployment I was promoted to a Gunner for excellent work.  I did a 8 month tour in Iraq and on March 7, 2006 I had 2 weeks till I was going home, when I had about 150 HE (highly explosive) rounds out in front of me on the ground.  I was in the process of cleaning them, when one round went off.  The next thing I knew I woke up face first on the ground, roughly 2 or so seconds later.  I was flown to Germany where they put a Halo on my leg to try and save it. I was than transported to Bethesda, Maryland.

There I was given the choice to amputate my leg, and have a chance of going back to 100% or I could keep it and have a cane and limp for the rest of my life.  I decided to take the option to amputate.  It took about 6 months of physical therapy to get back to 100%.  All things happen for a reason and it took me awhile to understand why this happened (considering all the military could tell me is it was a default round and should of never went off), but now I have met my wife, married for almost 5 years and have 2 wonderful children.  So I would say I got some good things out of this whole incident.
I started photography about 1 month after being injured.  I was sitting around at the hospital and did not have much to do.  I had a different outlook on life sitting in a wheelchair until I could get my prosthetic.  So decided to do something about it.  When your in a wheelchair you do not move as fast, benefit is life does not scream past you, you stop and learn to appreciate it.  I do all sorts of photography as far as; senior pictures, weddings, parties, and the one I do the most, and have most love for is nature.  There is so much more to life than technology and people seem to forget that.  I try and recapture that.
Back in 2006-2009 I was huge into photography until the VA had a few problems with my paperwork.  That is a long story and will not get into it.  Long story short they took half my pay away on accident and now I am fighting to get it back after almost 2 years.  After my pay dropped, to get by I had to sell my cameras and tri-pods and a few lens.  I am still doing photography to this day with what I have (one very old pentax camera.  Lens is going bad, and lighting is messed up, but you work with what you have.)  I do not have any tripods anymore nor do I have any other lens but I have been able to deal without those.