The Graffiti of War Foundation
The second part of the project goal is to bring much needed healing to the American warfighter. With the advances in medical technology, vehicle and body armor, more of our combat troops are surviving the horrors of conflict. In the past, battlefield deaths were drastically higher than now because of these technological advances. Many troops that are coming home after surviving brutal injuries, living with the nightmares of a hell on earth are having a difficult time readjusting, relating, and surviving their inner struggle. Still more are coming home with not a scratch on the surface, but their minds are full of holes. These silent wounds are leaving our soldiers riddled with despair. In not treating this grievous affliction, we are leaving these soldiers on the battlefield and that is against a fundamental Army value, never NEVER leave a battle buddy behind.
The focus of this foundation following the completion of the project is to use those funds to help our brothers and sisters-in-arms use artistic expression to fight this inner battle, to heal those unseen, silent wounds. Both SSG D and Doc were deployed to one of the worst areas during a time when America seemed to be losing this war in 2006. SSG D was, and still is, a Combat Engineer and Doc, was a Combat Medic. Ar Ramadi was notorious for IED attacks, complex ambushes and mass casualty events daily. Seeing what metal does to men, women, and children haunts both of them to this very day. There is medical science to art as therapy, having soldiers create what they saw; to put it on canvas and out of their minds will help bring them closer to healing. Service members take an oath when they served this nation, to never, NEVER leave a brother or sister behind.
That is the foundation's mission, to ensure all return and not one warfighter is left behind.
How You Can Get Involved:
This foundation needs your help. Whether you are a veteran or a civilian, a health-care professional or a college student, there are many ways to join the fight.
1.) We need help spreading the word to anyone and everyone. Awareness is half the battle and the more people know about this cause, the more we can help.
2.) We need fundraisers to help us raise the money we need to cover what care isn't donated. We will NEVER charge these heroes a dime for care. Whether they qualify for VA health care benefits or not, their mental health care should not EVER cost them...they have already paid that cost...with their sacrifice.
3.) We need help contacting the VA and other government agencies that can help us reach out to those who can benefit from the services soon to be provided by the foundation. If you work at the VA or at DOD or contract for the government, we need your help reaching through the bureaucracy to connect with whom we need to speak with.
4.) Although it may seem that we have a platoon of individuals working on this project and foundation that is an illusion. There is only so much we can accomplish and there are many ways to involve you in what we are doing. From help with web design and updates to accounting and phone calls, we can use any skills you are willing to offer us.
To find out how you can be a part of something that will change lives:
Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or give us a call at (304) 841-8203. Help us serve those who served us.
We are working with people in different specialties to ensure we are able to provide the best possible treatment and therapy techniques available in the field of art therapy. Allowing veterans and soldiers express themselves through art, while working through emotions and thoughts is what we aim to acheve at any level.
We intend to make these services available to any veteran or service member interested in the program. If it is not covered by the VA and /or other insurances, we plan to continue to pursue funding from donations, etc., as well as recruiting volunteers to provide these services to those who otherwise would be unable to participate.
Throughout these classes there would be an intermingling of art and therapy that would bring some resolve to these soldiers.
Our goal is to have the ability to facilitate online group therapy for our veterans and service members that are either too far away from VA Medical Centers/Vet Centers or are not comfortable with in-person interaction. We are currently working on solving the obvious logistical issues with this. In the interim, we have strategically partnered with HealMyPTSD.com to use their infrastructure currently in place.
In order for these programs to work, there needs to be an element of personal counseling to help each veteran express thoughts and feelings, to determine how it affects them and the people around them so that they can create a plan of action to move toward healing. Throughout this process the veteran would learn personal skills needed to create projects in visual art, writing, music, photography, etc.
These artistic skill building exercises could range from learning to express themselves through painting on canvas, or remembering fallen soldiers with wood carvings, writing in a personal journal to release some of the trauma, learning to play an instrument to work through emotions, to taking pictures of extreme sports to replace that sense of rush and adrenaline, or taking dancing lessons with their spouses as way to deal with the extra stresses of a life lived with PTSD.
We would like to make it possible for the groups to get together periodically to discuss what they are learning about their style of expression and how it is helping them cope. We would like to take this opportunity to have a group counseling session to allow the veterans to see that they are not alone, and to give them others to relate to, hopefully continuing the bonds of soldiers returned/returning from war. During these gatherings they would discuss and plan a final project to be completed as a group toward the end of the program.
Getting The Community Involved
The groups would be provided a opportunity to display, express, remember, explain their experiences in a way that reaches every race, age, religion, and heart of those who are lucky enough to experience it. We would ask the communities to provide a public space to display there final projects to others, and in doing so helping them to heal and others to understand. This may be a business allowing a group to use one side of their building to paint a mural of scenes from war that will inspire healing for the veterans. Perhaps, a city park providing a section of the property to erect a completed sculpture done by the soldiers, or a concert in a school gym of music that tells the tale of a soldiers journey. They could all create a final painting, to be sold at a gallery, that has donated time and space for them to sell their art to support themselves and to help continue the program.
Why Art as Therapy?
The creative process can be a health-enhancing, growth-producing experience. The purpose of art therapy is to improve mental health and emotional well being. Art therapy generally utilizes drawing, painting, sculpting, and photography, and other forms of visual art expression. Art therapists are trained to see nonverbal metaphors and symbols that are created in the process that may be too difficult to express in words or other means. By discovering what underlying thoughts and feelings are being communicated in the artwork, it is hoped that soldiers will not only gain insight and judgment, but perhaps also gain a better understanding of themselves, their experiences and the way they relate to the people around them.
Art Therapy: Definition of the Profession (AATA, 2002)
Art therapy is the therapeutic use of art making, within a professional relationship, by people who experience illness, trauma, or challenges in living, and by people who seek personal development. Through creating art and reflecting on the art products and processes, people can increase awareness of self and others, cope with symptoms, stress, and traumatic experiences; enhance cognitive abilities; and enjoy the life-affirming pleasures of making art.
Art therapists are professionals trained in both art and therapy. They are knowledgeable about human development, psychological theories, clinical practice, spiritual, multicultural and artistic traditions, and the healing potential of art. They use art in treatment, assessment and research, and provide consultations to allied professionals. Art therapists work with people of all ages: individuals, couples, families, groups and communities. They provide services, individually and as part of clinical teams, in settings that include mental health, rehabilitation, medical and forensic institutions; community outreach programs; wellness centers; schools; nursing homes; corporate structures; open studios and independent practices.
The American Art Therapy Association, Inc. (AATA) sets educational, professional, and ethical standards for its members. The Art Therapy Credentials Board, Inc. (ATCB), an independent organization, grants credentials. Registration (ATR) is granted upon completion of graduate education and post-graduate supervised experience. Board Certification (ATR-BC) is granted to Registered Art Therapists who pass a written examination, and is maintained through continuing education. Some states regulate the practice of art therapy and in many states art therapists can become licensed as counselors or mental health therapists.
Marachi (2006) provides an example of what an art therapy session involves and how it is different from an art class. "In most art therapy sessions, the focus is on your inner experience—your feelings, perceptions, and imagination. While art therapy may involve learning skills or art techniques, the emphasis is generally first on developing and expressing images that come from inside the person, rather than those he or she sees in the outside world. And while some traditional art classes may ask you to paint or draw from your imagination, in art therapy, your inner world of images, feelings, thoughts, and ideas are always of primary importance to the experience.
Therapy comes from the Greek word therapeia, which means 'to be attentive to.' This meaning underscores the art therapy process in two ways. In most cases, a skilled professional attends to the individual who is making the art. This person’s guidance is key to the therapeutic process. This supportive relationship is necessary to guide the art-making experience and to help the individual find meaning through it along the way.
The other important aspect is the attendance of the individual to his or her own personal process of making art and to giving the art product personal meaning—i.e., finding a story, description, or meaning for the art. Very few therapies depend as much on the active participation of the individual (p. 24)." In art therapy, the art therapist facilitates the person's exploration of both materials and narratives about art products created during a session.
People always search for some escape from illness and it has been found that art is one of the more common methods. Art and the creative process can aid many illnesses (cancer, heart disease, influenza, etc.). People can escape the emotional effects of illness through art making and many creative methods.
Hospitals have started studying the influence of arts on patient care and found that participants in art programs have better vitals and less complications sleeping. Artistic influence doesn’t even need to be participation in a program but studies have found that a landscape picture in a hospital room had reduced need for narcotic pain killers and less time in recovery at the hospital.
Art therapists have conducted studies to understand why some cancer patients turned to art making as a coping mechanism and a tool to creating a positive identity outside of being a cancer patient. Women in the study participated in different art programs ranging from pottery and card making to drawing and painting. The programs helped them regain an identity outside of having cancer, lessened emotional pain of their on-going fight with cancer, and also giving them hope for the future.
Studies have also shown how the emotional distress of cancer patients has been reduced when utilizing the creative process. The women made drawings of themselves throughout the treatment process while also doing yoga and meditating; these actions combined helped to alleviate some of the symptoms.