Wisconsin Veterans Forward

How Can Art Or Creative Writing Help Disabled Veterans Heal From Trauma? (Part 2)

April 18, 2022 Wisconsin Veterans Chamber of Commerce Season 2 Episode 131
Wisconsin Veterans Forward
How Can Art Or Creative Writing Help Disabled Veterans Heal From Trauma? (Part 2)
Show Notes Transcript

(Part 2) There are a myriad of ways that veterans find solace after service. Many are surprised to learn how prevalent the arts are in the veteran community, and how effective visual art and creative writing can be in helping a veteran to express him/herself.

From www.artsforallwi.org :

"ARTS for ALL Wisconsin’s Veterans Arts Studios were formed in partnership with Vet Centers in Wisconsin to engage veterans with disabilities in art making experiences. Veterans programs are free, and expanding to welcome veterans with disabilities from the public as well as Vet Center clients."

Questions? Comments? Continue the discussion by requesting access to our exclusive WVF Facebook Group.

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Wisconsin Veterans Forward is brought to you by the Wisconsin Veterans Chamber of Commerce, a nonprofit organization that serves veterans and military families by supporting veteran owned and veteran-friendly businesses throughout the state. 

On behalf of our members, we serve as an advocate for Wisconsin’s veteran business community and promote economic opportunity for military veterans, military families, and veteran-friendly businesses.

Follow us on all platforms: https://linktr.ee/Wivetschamber

 

Intro & Outro Themes: 

Barry Dallas - I’m Gone (https://uppbeat.io/t/barry-dallas/im-gone)

Noise Cake - Light It Up (https://uppbeat.io/t/noise-cake/light-it-up)



Speaker 1:

Today on Wisconsin veterans forward. We continue our conversation with the team over at arts for all Wisconsin. We're talking about , uh , art therapy specifically for veterans and artistic programs to help veterans , uh , overcome issues that may be troubling them. That's any thing from , uh , post traumatic stress, military sexual trauma. I mean, you name it any, any post service , uh, issues. Um , and this program is amazing. It's available for free , uh , to any veteran in the Madison area. You verify your service and they , they give you art supplies and they teach you out to express yourself and to use that expression , uh , to heal and to overcome. It's really interesting stuff. Uh , and you probably already know that cuz you listened to part one just a few minutes ago. Well, welcome to part two. Let's hit it. You are listening to Wisconsin veterans forward. Wisconsin's premier audio resource for veterans, military families, veteran owned and veteran friendly businesses. Wisconsin veterans forward is brought to you by the Wisconsin veterans chamber of commerce@wiveteranschamber.org . How common is it? Uh , I was, I was kind of surprised to hear that , um , for, but, but I guess now that you mention it, it's not all that surprising for a veteran to come in and after their first attempt go like, oh, this is stupid and crumple it up and throw it away because they're self conscious about it or, or for whatever reason,

Speaker 2:

It's, it's very, very common. Um, you know, or, or they're very the first time, but like even , um , I've had some very skilled artists in the class and, and if they're having a rough day, that confidence in their artwork is very low. Um, even if like everybody says , says , that's beautiful, but they're hearing it. They're hearing the, the positive words around them , but yeah , definitely starting out. Um, there's a lot of, I don't know if I could do this. I'm not sure I can master that skill. Um, oh, don't look at my work. It's not great. But then at the end of, you know, the three years of working with them so far, that level has changed a lot

Speaker 1:

Outstanding. And I suppose as a, you know, as somebody with this trained eye in art, you're able to see E their progression through what they're creating , uh , which I think must be very, very special. Uh, what , what does the future hold for this organization? Uh, I I'll go back to Jill. I mean, right now you're serving veterans. Uh, what is the future? Do you, do you wanna scale and serve more veterans? Do you have ideas for , uh, additional programs? Um, I suppose maybe let's talk about your programs now and then talk about what the future , uh, entails.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, absolutely. Um, so the past two years have, have , um, led to a lot of different transitions through our, you know, many programs, but also the veterans groups that we have , um, you know, some met virtually some met , uh , outdoors at parks and other locations. Um, you know, there've been staff that have come in and out , um, you know, transitioning through. Um, but at this point we are sort of restructuring a little bit , um, keeping the partnership with the vet center and welcoming their clients to attend the group. Um, but we're also hoping to open it up to , um, veterans who may be , you know, members of the public and not receiving vet center services, but who would also be interested in, you know, exploring some of these artistic opportunities. So , um, coming up , uh , starting the week of May 9th, we have a six week session starting in both visual art and in writing , um, the visual art session will be run not by Christie grace actually by , but by another teaching artist we have , um , named Jesse Salgado who is herself, a veteran, and also working on her masters in art. So bringing a lot of really good experience and talent to the program. Um, and we've also had , um, had a similar program and collaboration with the Wassa vet center. Um, they've seen some changes now too. And so I'm hoping to bring that back up , uh , in the near future , um, and hopefully expand to other locations as, as interest and , um, you know, capacity allows. Um, but if you would like to find out, oh, I'm sorry, go ahead, Adam.

Speaker 1:

Uh , is there a fee for these programs for the veterans?

Speaker 3:

No, it is absolutely free for veterans to attend and , uh , we provide all of the materials that would be necessary. They don't need to provide any, you know , um, brushes or tools or anything else. Uh , we have a really well art center here in Madison, so yeah .

Speaker 1:

So if you're a veteran and you can verify your, your former service status, you can provide your DD two 14, you can get a six week art , take six weeks of art classes with a professional free of charge with all materials provided

Speaker 3:

All . That's correct.

Speaker 1:

That's an incredible opportunity. That's an incredible opportunity. So, so you're operating outta Madison and you said you're hoping to expand these programs elsewhere. What do you, what do you have in mind for the future?

Speaker 3:

Um, well, we've been talking with vet centers in waa and in green bay. Okay . Um, to see if, you know, they have of interested , um , clients who would benefit from these services and if they have, you know, locations and ways of spreading the word and that sort of thing. Um , so as we , we can create more connections and have more testimonials and, and awesome, you know, people who can attest to the experience that they're, you know, they're gaining from these programs. Um, I think, I think it will continue to grow because the need is certainly there.

Speaker 1:

That's excellent. And I do have the, their website scrolling across the bottom there, if you wanna learn more about them and what they do. And if anyone has any questions here while we're, while we're chatting, we still have a little bit of time left, so I'd be happy to relay those, just throw 'em in the chat there. Uh , it doesn't matter , uh , which platform you're watching through. Just drop us a line, say howdy , ask 'em what their favorite sports team is, who their favorite , uh, who their favorite visual artist is , uh, ask them if they're going to be attending the May 25th annual veterans light up the arts event, which I hope everybody, everybody here watching will be. Um, but yeah, I , I wanna turn over to, to Joe now , uh, to just ask about, let's see if I can jockey this around here. There we go , uh, to ask about the, the vet center and how, how you've seen these , uh , art therapy programs play out and what role you see that playing in the future, at least for your vet center. Uh, is it one , is it something that you wanna keep at its current level? Is it something that you need to see , uh , you know, from firsthand experience, you need to see it expand tenfold. Uh, what do you see as an , a vision for an ideal future?

Speaker 4:

Well, I , I would say I would love to see it expand tenfold. I would love to see , um, I , I think that the intriguing thing with the therapy side of the house is real quick. I just wanna hear something that Christie said earlier, which is kind of the most, this is the thing that as a vet, where , and the therapist side of me, where why I get excited about specifically the writing group in art individual art group. Um, is that the reason I think it's so successful is that you're able to come and be yourself and kind of express who you are , whether it's in Redding or in a visual , but then you're doing it in a group of other veterans. And what happens to so many of us veterans when we come home, we we're , we're trained to fight, you know, on our brothers and sisters on our reckon side. And then we come home and we, all of a sudden we're left to by ourselves. And we're , we're kinda like stuck as we isolate. And, and this is just a great opportunity where you can be, but actually be able to kind be your express yourself, a form that might be, and then get the support of those around you. And I think that's where a lot of the truth healing comes from in my perspective. Um, but yeah, I , I hope that this art for all and this connection we have with them continues to grow , and we continue to see , um, people coming to use it , um, not only , uh , for their own , uh, progress in life and getting better and readjusting to life, but just for their own, their own enjoyment of , of doing it. So I , I could say for instance, I had, I've had several testimon I could give on how this has been so impactful. And like one of my clients, she , uh, I was gone for a month and she had a issue come up. She didn't have anyone else to reach out to. So she just started writing as Beth had taught her and all the different things Beth has , has given her the insight in writing. And she said with, with just the writing on herself, by herself, she was able to resolve her own anxiety over the issue she was facing. And it was this amazing thing, how this just , it doesn't just impact this for the moment here. It's something that they can carry on in their life and on the arch for all the more the visual side, a , a gentleman, I think it was actually last week, he came in, I hadn't seen him for probably three or four years and he just came in and he had some art. He wanted to show me and he said, Joe, working with you. And then going to arch fall gave me my passion back for something I was really gifted at . And he just sold several paintings to the university of Wisconsin hospital for a lot of money. And this gentleman was not in good shape when he first came in here. So it's just an amazing thing to see as a , as a counselor to watch how in conjunction with therapy, this has just been amazing to watch what veterans have been able to use , uh , use , uh , their , whether it's , again, the visual art or the writing, how that's been helping them in their own individual lives. And so it's just pretty powerful. So yes, I would love to see this continue. Um , this relationship we have in , in more veterans come to its for sure,

Speaker 1:

That's good stuff you should have , uh , that veteran are artist , uh, submit their work , uh , to potentially be exhibited. Uh, at our fifth annual veterans led up the arts event here@themilwaukeeartmuseumgotoiveterans.art . And it'll take you right to the event page and uh, towards the bottom of the description, there's a link for artists to meant . We're accepting submissions now through April 24th, at 11:59 PM, all disciplines of art, visual, art, spoken word, dramatic art music, whatever you submit it. And it's being informally juried by three art curators who know a lot more about that than I do. And then we'll let our select these know and , and invite everybody to come out. The whole exhibit is by veterans, military family members. So that might be a good fit for him. And a lot of the people who work , uh , who work with, with arts for all Wisconsin , uh , as well, I , I wanna be able to do around Robin here and just ask if there's any, anything that, that you wanted to make sure that we covered or any closing thoughts or anything, I suppose let's go to Beth next. Uh, is there anything that you want to convey about these programs and their impact or the future or anything that you have going on , uh, that you wanna share with people who might be watching?

Speaker 5:

Well, thank you. But just to echo with Joan , I'm glad he spoke up because that's the real benefit having a therapist in there because he, she , they, you know, get to be able to kind of unpack that part of it, but, you know, personal testimonies were, you know, there is one vet who said, I just could not have the , um , didn't have the energy or even the words to send a card that was really difficult to his mother. And after taking some classes, his comment was with a writing that was inspired. I sent the cards , um, thanks for planting the seeds along the way. It also gives a platform to , for people to share their voice. You know, one woman who was learning some other there , things that another vet outlet said, Hey, I wanna share that. I can share some things about resiliency. So more those kind of testimonies were the big thing. And then yes, the writing group that , that will be running for six weeks. Um, we'll be starting in may and then we'll see what happens because we'll see about some possible virtual ones. We also double check as I, that there are , um , virtual , um , writing and virtual art dropping classes in April and , um , arts for all in the Jill can add about how to find those. Um , but they're available too. No charge come test the waters.

Speaker 1:

Excellent. Yep . And learn more about those programs in classes arts for all wisconsin.org, Christie , what do you got for us? Any closing thoughts

Speaker 2:

For sure. Um , so I would say anybody at all interested in these programs just, just come, there's a growth mentality. That's so key to this. Like we don't expect you to be excellent or, you know, advanced in anything like when you're coming in, just come and try and it's it's for your own personal growth and , um , enjoyment.

Speaker 1:

Do you find that that's a challenge , uh, more so with the veteran community or challenge just overarchingly to get them to even come or acknowledge that, especially if they're new to the arts, that this could be a means by with, to express themselves or heal.

Speaker 2:

Uh , I see it as a challenge across the board civilian and veterans alike . Uh , but I do see people all the time saying like, I can only draw a stick figure or not even , um , mm-hmm <affirmative> , they don't give themselves a chance to grow on it. So like, I think like you were talking about before, like veterans have found this as something healing, so they might even be better at, at giving it a try than, you know, some civilians.

Speaker 1:

Sure, outstanding. Uh, Joe, I know we were just at you here, but , uh, any closing thoughts that you wanna make sure that we get out there?

Speaker 4:

Well, maybe just to jump on board , what Chrisy just said there regarding, and your , and answering your question, I would be that veteran who would not want to, to go to the arch trial if I , as a , as a veteran , um, again, as I said mentioned earlier, I , it was more of a kind of , I roped into it and I think that's where for me, as on the therapy side with my own individual clients , I do get to kind of share my own journey and how it has been so beneficial. Um, even to the point where I now use some of the things I've learned from Beth in my therapy practice, helping veterans , um , and having, and using writing as a tool to help veterans in my own clinical work , uh , because I've seen it so successful. So not a writer , uh , not a , not an artist by any means. Um, I'm the sick figure kind of guy. Uh, but I have , uh, so anyways , listening that is kind in that boat . That was me. Um, but I have found it to be an amazing , uh , avenue to just my own personal healing as I was , uh , I stated earlier in , uh , in what I've seen to do for so many other veterans. So if that's you , uh, I would say , uh , don't worry about it. Um, just come out and enjoy yourself and it's , it's a good time to be with other, other veterans and just express yourself the way you need to. So

Speaker 1:

It's a fun and , uh , relaxing and community centric and empowering thing to do . If you're hesitant, if you're a stick figure , sort of guy or gal , uh, just give it a shot. You know, you , you might, you might discover , uh , you might discover a hidden passion. Uh, Jill we'll , we'll close it up with you here. Uh, any closing thoughts or anything that we missed? I feel like this time went by way too quick.

Speaker 3:

It did. It was a very quick session <laugh> yeah . Um, yeah, just echoing at what everyone else has said. Even if you don't see yourself as an artist , um, we don't have any expectations of you coming in. It's just a time to explore a new outlet for expression for , um,

Speaker 1:

You're not gonna get kicked out if you're a stick figure person. <laugh>

Speaker 3:

Not by any means. No.

Speaker 1:

Get outta here. Who do you think you are ? Yeah . <laugh>

Speaker 3:

Yeah. So if you're interested in finding out more and connecting , um, you can head over to our website arts for all. W i.org , if you , uh , look under programs, you'll see veterans arts studios,

Speaker 1:

Good stuff , uh , looking forward to , uh, following along enthusiastic Lee as this organization , uh , both of these organizations arts for all Wisconsin. And of course our vet centers throughout the state are collaborating to, to help bring these, these really truly deep rooted transformational healing opportunities for veterans, military family members. Thank you all for joining me. I'll ask you to hang on the line here. I'll I'll just chat with you after the show for just a set . Uh , there it is folks, I mean, firsthand experience from arts people from veterans, from veterans arts people and everybody in between. This is impactful stuff. It's not just this isn't fluff. This isn't like, you know, well, I suppose that's nice, but let's go, go back to the pills and, and the , you know, the therapy at the VA like it's, this is really impactful life changing opportunities for people who need help. So not only should we , uh , be supporting, advocating evangelizing for programs such as the us, any opportunities we have to provide support for nonprofit organizations that advance the proliferation of the arts and arts therapy and healing through the arts of all disciplines we need to do. And for Pete's sake, if you're a veteran out there and you don't think you're an artist, or you have a creative bone in your body , uh, you're wrong, you have creativity within you. And there's a way you could have fun doing this. You could express yourself with it. You could find a new outlet. You might not be DaVinci. You know, you might not be the <laugh> the next, I don't know , insert artist here, who's famous, but you could find something that really helps to make you tick and helps you to find that within you, that that may have gotten lost or distorted over time by virtue of your honorable service to this country. So don't, don't write off the arts. Don't do it arts for all wisconsin.org. Appreciate y'all joining us. We'll see you next time. Thank you for listening to Wisconsin veterans forward brought to you by the Wisconsin veterans chamber of commerce. Please visit us@wiveteranchamber.org . Don't forget to subscribe to this podcast, leave a rating and review in whatever platform you're listening through.