I am a retired psychologist and met The ArtReach Founder and CEO 2 1/2 yrs. ago. The work of the Foundation, using the creative arts to heal children and adults traumatized by war and natural disaster, fit my interest in working with veterans and military families who have sacrificed for all Americans. ArtReach Project America has the goal of offering training and workshops to military personnel, veterans, their families, and their providers in all 50 states. The work taps all volunteers' and participants' creativity, imagination, hope, fun, and engages people in the message that we are all in this together. I am now not only a volunteer but a Trainer, Board Member, and CoChair of Project America.
I served 8 years in the marine corps as an infantry man and did two combat tours in Iraq. Early in my second deployment to Iraq I was wounded by a suicide bomber attack. After returning from combat I was diagnosed with PTSD, traumatic brain injury among other injuries. After being found unfit for duty I completed many different types of traditional therapies which in my own personal experience were not very helpful. In my quest for true healing I found the ArtReach Foundation and I had the opportunity to experience their methods. I can honestly say that through the use of art, writing in the metaphor, music and movement I was able to release a lot of the things I would not dare talk about. Now that I am medically retired from the Marine Corps and benefiting from the ArtReach experience I continue to serve by being an ArtReach trainer and Veteran mentor.
I am a psychotherapist and a child of the military. After 9/11, it became increasingly obvious that the military and their families were having to bear an unaccustomed burden. Reserve and Guard units became essential to the missions abroad. Families with little experience of the military were having to adjust to breadwinners' being gone for long periods and, often, multiple deployments. More and more service people were coming home with the complications of PTSD and other injuries. I looked around for several years for some way to help and then I found ArtReach. This organization, through its initiative, Project Share, provides opportunities for healing and growth using the expressive arts. Work initially was targeted for the individual in the military but it quickly became apparent that their families were anxious for similar programs that would facilitate understanding and skill-building. ArtReach partners with the military in providing retreats for families in the form of retreats which include opportunities for all involved to form new and strong connections through art. In groups that are designed for the service member, individuals with the shared experience of combat join in working with the arts to heal the wounds of war. ArtReach continues to adapt to the increasing needs for its services as they arise. I feel very grateful to have found a way to serve the military in recognition of their sacrifices and those of their families.