Veterans Using Art To Tackle PTSD Meet US Second Lady

Posted on September 6, 2019

While the US Vice President held talks with the British Prime Minister, Karen Pence showed support for veterans adjusting to life after service.

Mrs Pence, a watercolour painter herself, has long been an advocate of the arts.

In the United States, she is a supporter of many arts programmes, like Combat Paper – an initiative which gets veterans to cut up their uniform and turn it into paper and works of art.

Royal Air Force Veteran Richard Kidgell has been using art to tackle Post Traumatic Stress after his years in service

He sais he uses art as a way to unlock and face his feelings.

“Often I find myself – and the other veterans – actually shaking with emotion in the session,” said Mr Kidgell.

“You cannot hide from memories that are drawn in front of you.”

Richard was given support by Combat Stress who run ongoing six-week programmes throughout the year to explore ways of tackling PTSD.

Art has been a part of their course for 18 years, and as the charity marks its centenary this year it is hoping to raise awareness of the support available.

“Veterans might not have had anything to do with art therapy before,” said Jan Lobban, Art Therapist at Combat Stress.

However, she remarked, that veterans often find there is no need to be good at art to benefit from the therapy.

“It is all about expressing your thoughts, your feelings and ideas.”

Combat stress receives 2,000 new referrals every year.

While there is no quick fix for PTSD, art has been found to make a difference, crossing the divide between service life to civilian life and crossing continents – with the support both sides of the Atlantic.

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