MILWAUKEE (SPECTRUM NEWS) --  There’s a Wisconsin project helping veterans express themselves in a creative way.

It’s an honor to serve our country.  That’s how many veterans feel but when they return from service many veterans nationwide and here in Wisconsin struggle to cope with starting over in society.

For veteran, Shelly Lopez, finding a way to express herself wasn't always easy. Until the snap of a camera, gave her a new perspective.

After serving her country for nearly a decade, Shelly struggled with drugs and alcohol. She’s now in recovery and has found an outlet with art.

"It makes me feel good again, it makes me feel happy, it gives me life back again," said veteran, Shelly Lopez.

She says photography gives her the feelings of pride, joy, and accomplishment. 

"It makes me feel good about myself it helps my self-esteem and it helps me to keep moving forward," Lopez said.

She is able to move forward and express herself now, thanks to the Veterans in Focus program with the Milwaukee VA.

"I don't want to isolate so much anymore, I want to go out and do things and take more pictures of things and just express myself," Lopez said.

The program allows veterans to cope using photo therapy as a way to express themselves.

"Being able to meet the veteran who came through they are very diverse and that comes through in their pictures," Chair of Military Veterans Resource Group, Nikki Wood said.

For Shelly, she says simply seeing her artwork on display at the exhibit at Northwestern Mutual brings a smile to her face.

“This one probably has the most meaning of all of them," Lopez said.

Through the program, Shelly says she was able to find a love and a passion for photography that she hopes to continue to capture in the future.

"I didn't realize how much I would actually love photography. I think there is a difference between liking it and loving it and after the first class I knew this was something I had to keep doing," Lopez said.

She says it’s allowed her a new perspective on life by seeing things differently through a new lens.

The photo exhibit can be found in the Northwestern Mutual building in downtown Milwaukee and runs until august 29th. For more information on the exhibit you can click the link HERE.