Plastic army men struggle with PTSD in British artists' ode to Colorado Springs soldiers

We've all seen those molded green plastic soldiers; they're a staple of every kid's childhood and, thanks to the Toy Story series, heroes of the big screen. But we've never seen plastic soldiers like this -- begging for money, assaulting women, placing a rifle under their chin.

It's the arresting work of the Dorothy arts collective in Manchester, England -- and it's inspired by soldiers from Colorado Springs.

As explained on the arts collective's website, the series of plastic molded soldiers was motivated by "Casualties of War," a two-part 2009 series in the Colorado Springs Gazette about Fort Carson's 506th Infantry Regimen, the so-called "Band of Brothers" Unit that had become associated with violence, suicides and a series of brutal murders. Gazette writer David Philipps has since expanded the series into a book, Lethal Warriors: When the New Band of Brothers Came Home. As the arts collective explains:

The hell of war comes home. In July 2009 Colorado Springs Gazette published a two-part series entitled "Casualties of War." The articles focused on a single battalion based at Fort Carson in Colorado Springs, who since returning from duty in Iraq had been involved in brawls, beatings, rapes, drunk driving, drug deals, domestic violence, shootings, stabbings, kidnapping and suicides. Returning soldiers were committing murder at a rate 20 times greater than other young American males. A separate investigation into the high suicide rate among veterans published in the New York Times in October 2010 revealed that three times as many California veterans and active service members were dying soon after returning home than those being killed in Iraq and Afghanistan combined. We hear little about the personal hell soldiers live through after returning home.

Whether folks think the toy soldiers are a moving work of art or a gimmick that's in poor taste, it's hard not to be struck by the juxtaposition of childhood playthings and the horrors of war. We thought we'd seen every artistic ode to combat imaginable. Clearly, we were wrong.

More from our News archives: "Fort Carson revelations: 40 percent of soldiers may have undiagnosed brain injuries."

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