WASHINGTON — Healing arts therapy for wounded warriors can have a profound impact on those who have post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury, and it also educates the medical community on treating such signatures of war, the director of the Defense Health Agency said today at the opening of the 2017 Wounded Warrior Healing Arts exhibit at the Pentagon.
Navy Vice Adm. (Dr.) Raquel C. Bono spoke at the kickoff of the Pentagon Patriotic Arts Program’s newest display, which will grace the walls of Apex 1 and 2 on the Pentagon’s second floor for a year.
The exhibit reflects the therapeutic artwork of service members who have suffered such maladies and found an outlet in many forms of art to help in managing their symptoms.
The military has used therapeutic arts programs since the inception of the National Intrepid Center of Excellence healing arts program in 2010 at Walter Reed National Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland. It’s an expanding program across the nation’s military facilities, with numerous such programs in place or under way.
“‘One of lessons we took away from 15 years of war … is we realized there’s much more than fixing a person’s physical ability and injury,” Bono pointed out. And often, coping with such disorders with art therapy involves the community around the affected service member, she said. “l see it has a profound impact not only on your own healing, but to rest of community in terms of understanding and appreciation,” the admiral said.
Caring for a Network
“We learned we must be able to take care of the entire family and the entire network of our wounded warriors, and that was a real signature lesson we carried forward,” Bono noted.
But another piece of that equation, she said, is that military medicine learned to take care of spiritual, intellectual, mental, physical and religious domains that are important as wounded warriors transition from the military.
The DHA director told the numerous artists from the program who were in the audience that their ability to display their art in the halls of the Pentagon is an incredibly powerful way to express their messages that often cannot be put into words.
Likewise, she added, the artists’ sharing of their work with a broad audience will help others understand that complexities exist in everyone, and the complexities can exceed simple treatment and therapy.
“I want people to know who you are and what you’ve done,” Bono told the artists. “I thank you all for sharing, because I know this is a deeply personal part of who you are and what you’ve experienced.”