The Therapeutic Healing of Art Among Veterans
In the civilian community, art is welcomed with open arms and with appreciation. Studies have proven that a designed interior with emphasis on color and art provides a therapeutic experience without stress to the client/patient, and is an ideal setting to gain the best outcome from a visit to the medical office or clinic.
Unfortunately, there are those who see art as a luxury or an unnecessary expense, rather than as a therapeutic healing supplement to enhance the greater purpose and to improve both internal and external health.
This is one of the reasons I created The Veterans Art Venue, a program of Meroe Artists Group, LLC. The Veterans Art Venue mission is to exhibit, to provide, and to empower through art, beyond words. Our art evokes a thought, a reflection and a therapeutic embrace.
While words trigger memories, art evokes a spontaneous incentive to share stories, bridging a communication gap and allowing viewers to reach within and embark on an emotional quest to heal.
The Veterans Art Venue provides art through classes and sessions for veterans who are being treated for PTSD and other stress related conditions. The act of creating art is a therapeutic approach to balance and offers a pathway to help with other available treatments. Six times a year, we host art exhibitions where the public and the veteran community come together to foster a bonding experience, thus healing through therapeutic social activities. We showcase art created by veterans to ignite and encourage dialogue among both veterans and civilians. While words trigger memories, art evokes a spontaneous incentive to share stories, bridging a communication gap and allowing viewers to reach within and embark on an emotional quest to heal.
For example, my painting “The Price of Freedom” was created to ignite remembrance and recognition of honor within the hearts and minds of civilians. It is meant to motivate the sharing of internal thoughts and experiences and embracing a found understanding, thus cleansing thoughts of anger, pain and regret and moving toward a positive sense of wellbeing. We have had the honor of hearing from veterans who have stated “The Price of Freedom” awakened in them an inner urge to speak stories, thoughts, and questions to others, as a form of reaching out. They were able to engage, to bond, and to realize without fear or doubts that they are not alone, that others are going through similar pain, and that people care.
Recently, The Veterans Art Venue as extended to provide art to the interiors of a housing facility for veterans who are in transition. Our survey findings have confirmed our philosophy that interior settings play a major therapeutic role for both the guests (in this case veterans) and for the office personnel and staff of the residential facility. With the addition of art to the facility, the veterans there felt a sense of respectability from the administrative decision to care for their living space, while the staff appreciate the positive aesthetic contribution of art throughout the hallways, offices, conference rooms and entrances.
We have a following of veterans on Facebook who engage with us and ask about upcoming exhibitions, art classes, and art clinics sessions. We use our art to reach out and, no surprise, the response is significant.
As a people, let us embrace the therapeutic powers of art. I look forward 2017, where The Veterans Art Venue will continue to be a therapeutic endeavor for our veterans.