Go to the ArtPrize mobile app.
ArtPrize has a new mobile app for 2021! Learn more here.
Photo of Michael X

Michael X

Grand Rapids, MI, United States

I feel honored to have served 15 years, 1 month, and 18 days in the United States military as an airborne Ranger, part of the Special Forces. While fighting in Iraq, and other undisclosed places, I received three purple hearts. But each time, I got patched up and returned to fight the next battle. In 2013, after serving 27 months in the most hellish place on earth, the government offered me a desk job. But I opted to go home, because Rangers don’t sit on the sidelines. After re-entering the civilian world, I thought my life would be normal. I still see images, though, as if the things I witnessed only happened fifteen seconds ago. Something as simple as an unattended bag on the sidewalk will set me on edge. Everyone expected me to come back as the same person who left fifteen years ago. But war changes a person. Although I’m a former Ranger, I don’t have a job or a house. My new reality: No one is going to hire a highly specialized veteran. Though I executed my military job very well, working with billion-dollar military equipment, I struggle not to default into automatic-combat-mode. It’s a daily battle not to “rope off” (any military guy knows what that means). Recently, as I watched a middle-school kid kick a Vietnam War Memorial and say, “Who cares about a bunch of dead people?” I had all I could do to keep my cool. To me, it seems like Americans have zero respect for their country. People think freedom is just a word. But freedom is very expensive; it costs lives. Someone’s son or daughter comes back in a body bag. After serving 15 years, 1 month, and 18 days, I’m just not geared for the civilian world. This entry is sponsored by Heartside Ministry.

Michael's ArtPrize Entries

These are Michael's official ArtPrize entries from this year and past years.