“A person that experienced traumatic brain injury or trauma has a hard time verbalizing what they’ve been through. Art therapy is a form of psychotherapy in which trained and credentialed art therapists invite those who have been traumatized or going through some kind of medical or mental health issue to express themselves using the art making process.”
– Melissa Walker, art therapist
The Take Me Home Huey Project draws upon the healing potential of the arts, and to learn from disciplines such as art therapy, a treatment that has shown great success over the years.
Melissa Walker is a credentialed art therapist with expertise in PTSD and traumatic brain injury (TBI), who uses art-making as a clinical tool to help active-duty service members suffering from life-altering, often overwhelming injuries. The patients’ artwork frequently becomes the foundation to begin talk therapy in treatment, and also enables them to open up to their families and peers.
Melissa’s work has contributed to the founding of Creative Forces®: NEA Military Healing Arts Network, an initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with the U.S. Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs and the state and local arts agencies.
Creative Forces places creative arts therapies at the core of patient-centered care at clinical sites throughout the country, including telehealth services, and increases access to community arts activities to promote health, wellness and quality of life for military service members, veterans, and their families and caregivers. Art, music, writing, dance and theatre – in both clinical treatment and non-clinical community engagement forms – help service members and veterans express themselves in new ways.
Transforming a plain mask into an art piece is helping patients to express their invisible wounds.
Chris Stowe, a retired Marine with the bomb squad, suffered combat injuries in Iraq and Afghanistan that left him with PTSD and TBI. After participating in Melissa’s program at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, he discovered that making art, and in particular glassblowing, helps him to focus, relieves stress and decreases anxiety. Chris has founded a free glassblowing program for veterans at the Morean Art Center, in St. Petersburg, Florida.
With his passion for art Chris is helping other veterans
This tactile exposure to art is similar to what veterans experience during their encounters with Take Me Home Huey. Many feel comfortable sharing their personal stories. This could be the first step in opening up a healing dialogue.
We are supporting art therapy programs with parts of the proceeds from the book sales.
An average of 20 American veterans die by suicide each day.
The veteran suicide crisis brings home the need in our country to care for the veterans when they come home, including those with the less visible wounds of war: PTSD and traumatic brain injury (TBI).
These statistics are sobering. But help is available. Licensed therapists can assist those who suffer to better understand their trauma and explore ways of managing it.
There are various treatment options to reduce the side effects of ptsd.
Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that may develop after a person has experienced or witnessed a terrifying event, such as combat, rape, a natural disaster, a serious accident, or a terrorist attack. Symptoms include reliving the event in the form of flashbacks, nightmares, severe anxiety or irriability, and detachment from others.
For more information about the condition and how medical professionals diagnose it, please visit these websites:
Understanding PTSD and how to help.
For those who experience PTSD, there is good news. Since the Vietnam War, we have greatly improved our understanding of the condition, and medical professionals have developed therapies that successfully treat the condition for many who suffer from it.
For more information, visit Mayoclinic’s website.