Homeland Craft: Veterans Turn To Art Therapy

Miriam Schlabach |

By: Stephanie Bates from Military Travel Mama

Recreational therapy incorporating artistic designs can be very effective, here’s a site which goes into greater depth. To summarize, as it turns out, the designs of the mind can sometimes be “abstruse” or “oblique”, especially among those who focus on overcoming emotion with willpower, like military men, what lurks beneath the surface, can be hard to draw out.

Arts and crafts sort of sidestep direct conscious thought, allowing the subconscious to exorcise ideas otherwise kept hidden. Sometimes repression has deliberately pushed memories into the ether of the past. Sometimes certain memories play themselves on repeat in the mind of the veteran, and an art or craft can get the record out of the “loop”.

All these things being said, the kind of arts and crafts veterans will be drawn to may be somewhat counterintuitive to most therapists. While some adults may be perfectly content designing sculptures with clay, painting, or embroidering something, veterans may need a little additional stimulation. Perhaps their means of artistic expression involves metal work.

Maybe an enterprising officer prefers to make short films, take astonishing still photography, or write songs. Many veterans find themselves interested in projects which have an artistic nature not immediately apparent, like rebuilding a car or fixing up an old machine. Oftentimes sculpture that takes skill and responsibility for proper handling of dangerous equipment can be a good choice, like that involved in shaping metal coins.

Designing Challenge Coins

Starting hobbies for veterans is important because they open up so many opportunities for them to network and find new passions in life. There are many stories of such companies, that were started by veterans after finding their passion after coming back from deployment. One such story is Embleholics, and they even help inspire and motivate veterans toward therapeutic artistic creation.

Challenge coins can be customized easily, and you could make the craft about designing your own challenge coins. Veterans are no stranger to the kind of work which may produce a filigreed piece of metal for a special occasion, and they may even enjoy the task.

You might buy challenge coins as an example, and from there let the veterans put existing skills to work.

Realistic Considerations

The truth is, one-on-one therapy with the best counselors may yield nothing, depending on the individual. Especially with those who have seen combat, there exists a disconnect. They’ve been in “the trenches”, as it were. They’ve had to end a person’s life with their bare hands and face the utter horror of human ability—positive and negative. It’s not like in film and movies.

Between lost comrades and necessary duties, there are many stresses which come into the mind of a soldier, and at any level in the military. An officer must sometimes send men to their deaths and know he’s doing so in the act.

It doesn’t matter how mentally fit a person is, that’s something that will weigh on the soul, and which isn’t likely to be talked about in casual or therapeutic conversation. Still, designing a challenge coin commemorating a unit, or taking still photography, or making metal sculptures can let the mind release the painful memories through art.

Art Therapy

Artwork is therapeutic to those who make creation of such things their life’s purpose. Those who aren’t trying to make any statements can likewise find cathartic release, and sometimes may even find what they’ve produced resonates with the public.

Whether you’re working at the VA and looking for activities to stimulate veterans, or you’re working with someone in your family who has seen active duty, getting veterans involved with arts and crafts can have some positive collateral benefits worth considering.

Bio: Stephanie is the founder of Military Travel Mama; she is the wife of a military professional and mother to two children. Follow her blog for more about military life, military discounts, family trips, healthy eating, and parenthood.

In addition to more traditional arts and crafts, leatherworking is another creative outlet for veterans considering art therapy. Weaver Leathercraft offers a wide range of supplies perfect for both novice and advanced leather crafters. As a heartfelt thank you, Weaver Leathercraft is honored to offer a 5% discount to retail customers who have served or are currently serving in the United States military.