My sweaty hands gripped my mistress, Jennifer. Standing there watching the sunset amidst the clouds of burning oil, I was amazed by the beauty of the purple glow beyond the horizon. I thought of my wife home pregnant with our first child. I wished she could have seen this...to know there are moments of beauty. Jennifer wasn’t as impressed. Cold at night and burning hot during the day, she only cared about one thing. Jennifer was there to kill. Jennifer, named after the actress Jennifer Love Hewitt, was my M16A2 rifle. I furrowed my brow and glanced down at her. In that moment, the betrayal crept back in. Our torrid relationship was one based on lies. Yet, I loved her. Just the night before we lay together in the sand as the world swirled around us. Together, we experienced a moment that would change my life forever. I tried to push those thoughts out of my mind as my eyes drifted from her to the horizon and then to the team behind me. The fabric stretched as the noose pulled tight yet the pipeline of words continued. “Copy that,” I said, and we continued to move forward.
Shawn "Simon" Ganther (born July 19, 1977) is an American contemporary painter and printmaker who emerged during the veteran artist movement. He served in the United States Air Force from 1998 to 2003 and was involved in Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Northern Watch. Shawn is best known for his piece “The Thinker,” a 22”X30” charcoal drawing on paper. “The Thinker” was featured in the Veteran Artist Program Exhibit in the Pentagon from 2013-2014. Shawn’s work has been shown across the country and is included in numerous private collections including: Harvard University Art Library, Cornell University, Stanford University Libraries, and the Yale University Art Library. His work has been published in the 2014 anthology Warrior Writers: A Collection of Writing & Artwork by Veterans and in Cloth Paper Scissors Magazine. In 2015, Wild Turkey released a limited edition military label featuring Shawn's artwork.
Shawn graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point in 2012 with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Media Production, and Studio Art. Since graduation, he has been an advocate for art therapy and self-expression as a means to treat PTSD.