Candice Charisma | #bycandicecharisma

Covid & The Soldier As An Essential Worker

Some of you may be new here for those of you that are, welcome. My name is Candice Charisma. I am photojournalist and a recent graduate of Fordham University where I’ve earned a B.A. in Journalism (Minor in Visual Arts) and most recently my M.A. in Public Media. This post serves great significance as it is a segue way into a project that I completed for my Master’s Thesis. 

Initially my idea for my Masters Thesis consisted of telling the stories of some of the soldiers and veterans that I served with. As covid came along it altered this plan and ultimately changed the focus of my thesis. As the pandemic picked up it was impossible to turn on the news without seeing a story about the essential worker i.e. Doctors, nurses, postal service workers, police officers etc. I found that one of the essential workers that was missing from this conversation was: the soldier. I understand how a soldier may get lost upon society. We protect and serve and it’s something we must do everyday. Our lives are in constant danger so much so that it’s easy to forget how much of that actually adds up when you factor in things like a world pandemic.

This post isn’t about seeking sympathy as much as it is about letting the world in on the faces and stories that serve and protect this country.  As a woman of color who has been apart of the 1% that join the military, I know that it is no easy task. All too often the tasks can feel like that of a superhero, but in the end of the day who saves the superhero from their issues? Who acknowledges them? Who is even aware? This narrative is similar to what many soldiers face. The story that I share of Vanessa Vazquez sheds light on some of these issues. Vanessa and I served together in Seattle. She is a mother of one, and is currently stationed in Kuwait.

This mini documentary is about understanding and attributing feelings and emotions to our soldiers and veterans. Society can sometimes attribute the role of the superhero, but  soldiers are very much human. They are mothers, daughters, fathers, sons, brothers and sisters. They fight several battles simultaneously: the battles on the frontline, in their households and then battles of the world such as Covid. They are not exempt from facing issues that are faced by civilians on the other side. This story is about attributing an element of humanization to our soldiers. It is also about understanding their role as the essential worker who often gets overlooked.

There are many more stories like Vanessa’s that are waiting to be told. I hope this sheds a bit of light on the 1% who serve this country. Although these stories get lost in translation, they are worthy of being heard.


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