Art Therapy helping local veterans


TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) – Today the Terre Haute community rallied to support local heroes.

The Fourth Annual Veterans Expo not only offered job opportunities but resources for adjusting to life after war.

On display was an innovative type of therapy to help veterans with some of their toughest challenges.

“I served from 1997 to 2006. I was stationed in Germany, and I served one year in Iraq as a medic,” says Mark Smith.

For Smith after nine years of service adjusting to life back home wasn’t easy.

“Just trying to relate some of the experiences you have in combat to civilian life was probably the most challenging thing, not really having an outlet,” he says.

That all changed with the stroke of a brush.

“Putting the colors down and swishing them around. It’s just fun,” says Smith.

Saint Mary of the Woods College started their Art Therapy program just 13 years ago.

Organizers wanted to offer the creative outlet to veterans across the WabashValley.

“It’s about living well and helping people live their best life, their most authentic life,” says Jill McNutt, Operations Director of Art Therapy, SMWC.

Through relaxation, and self expression they hope the healing power of art brings comfort to those suffering from health issues like Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

“Having something to think about other than that thing we are obsessed about really helps us to open up different avenues of thinking. It gives us a chance to step back and let our bodies and our minds heal,” says McNutt.

For Smith putting paint to canvas did just that.

“It’s something that is taking up a lot of space in my mind. It helps me when I do collages of military images on top of each other it makes me realize how much of an impact it had on my life,” he says.

Now they hope other veterans will express their creative side.

“Through the Art Therapy we can paint a picture of what the future looks like, therefore creating vision and hope,” says McNutt.

“Putting that out there it’s like a pressure release, to take what’s inside of you and externalize it,” says Smith.

SMWC hopes to continue expanding their Art Therapy program.

They are looking into providing studio time to bring the therapy to more people in the community.

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