Department of Defense (DoD)

Art Therapy Provides Lifeline for Wounded Warriors

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Art Therapy Provides Lifeline for Wounded Warriors
11/12/2015 04:32 PM CST

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Army Staff Sgt. Jonathan Meadows and Jackie Biggs discuss a painting during an art therapy session at Fort Belvoir Community Hospital’s traumatic brain injury clinic at Fort Belvoir, Va., Dec. 19, 2014. Meadows, assigned to Fort Belvoir’s Warrior Transition Battalion, suffered a traumatic brain injury in 2012 when his vehicle rode over an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan. Biggs is an art therapist, and manages the program for Wounded Warriors in the TBI clinic. DoD photo by Marc Barnes

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Art Therapy Provides Lifeline for Wounded Warriors

By Terri Moon Cronk DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON November 12, 2015 — Service members who take part in art therapy to soothe the symptoms of war’s invisible wounds display acts of courage and resilience to put them in control of their lives, the assistant secretary of defense for health affairs said today.

Speaking at the 2015 Wounded Warrior Healing Arts Recognition “Show of Strength” event at the Pentagon, Dr. Jonathan Woodson said service members, professionals, families and other caregivers have critical roles by supporting art therapy and ensuring its success.

Woodson said a wide variety of wounded service members’ “museum quality” art on display at the event caught his eye.

“I was reminded of the infinite potential of art to assess the human emotion, access the human emotion, and exploring … to understand emotions are complex issues,” the assistant secretary said.

“Today is a celebration of recovery and rehabilitation,” he said, noting that the celebration includes the expanding partnership of the Military Healing Arts partnership between the Defense Department and the National Endowment for the Arts as part of the Warrior Care Month observance.

NEA Supports DoD to Heal the Wounded

The NEA supports music, writing and visual art therapy at military care facilities for those who might not benefit from traditional therapy, Woodson said, adding that the partnership represents some of the “finest institutions in America coming together to aid in the healing of wounded warriors.”

Nine service members whose artwork was displayed received certificates of recognition for artistic achievement. Healing-arts therapy was a key part of their recovery and rehabilitation, explained James Rodriguez, deputy assistant secretary of defense for warrior care and policy.

Acknowledging that healing arts might not benefit every service member, because each case is individual, Woodson said the option to enter the program should be included for all as an option to expand their therapy plan.

“The progress of creating can lead them places they otherwise [might not] access,” he said. “It is safe to say we are all just beginning to understand how engagement in the arts can change lives of military members affected by traumatic brain injury to post-traumatic stress syndrome and other conditions. We know [the arts] can be an extremely powerful tool in assisting with recovery.”

And there are many reasons why the DoD-NEW partnership is important, he noted.

Art Therapy Has Calming Effects

Studies show creating art can produce calming effects on invisible wounds, because art therapy can decrease stress hormones, which can relax and lessen anxiety – especially for those used to staying hypervigilant in high-stress environments, Woodson said. Creating art to express feelings and help them externalize what they might have repressed for a long time can help return service members to a normal existence, he added.

Because of what they’ve experienced, service members often deal with a complex set of feelings and emotions that make it difficult to relate to people, Woodson said. The invisible wounds can lead to feelings of shame, guilt and identity crises that might cause them to retreat and engage in isolating behaviors,” he added.

“Art therapy is a lifeline out of that isolation,” the assistant secretary said.

(Follow Terri Moon Cronk on Twitter: @MoonCronkDoD)

Related Biographies

Jonathan Woodson
Dr. Jonathan Woodson is the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs. In this role, he
James Rodriguez
Mr. James Rodriguez is the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense, Office of Warrior Care Policy,

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Special Report: Warrior Care

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U.S. Department of Defense Defense News Lead Photo Update

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Missile Muscle
11/04/2015 06:00 PM CST

U.S. Marines disconnect a missile from an AV-8B Harrier on the flight deck of the amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge in the Red Sea, Nov. 5, 2015. The Kearsarge is supporting maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations.The Marines are attached to the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit. U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer Tyler Preston

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Joining Formation
11/11/2015 06:00 PM CST

The USS Chung-Hoon and USS William P. Lawrence join a formation during a transit exercise in the Pacific Ocean, Nov. 11, 2015. U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Christopher Frost

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Flood Risk Open House to View Maps in Raymondville and Brownsville, Texas -REVISED

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Flood Risk Open House to View Maps in Raymondville and Brownsville, Texas -REVISED
11/12/2015 04:45 PM EST

Flood Risk Open House to View Maps in Raymondville and Brownsville, Texas

Public Open House Events Scheduled to Share Map Changes and Flood Risk Information
(Please note correction below to address for open house in Willacy County.)

DENTON, Texas –Homeowners, renters and business owners in the Texas counties of Cameron and Willacy are encouraged to look over newly released preliminary flood maps in order to determine their flood risks and make informed decisions.

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Coalition-Supported Iraqi Kurds Work to Cut Main ISIL Line of Communication

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Coalition-Supported Iraqi Kurds Work to Cut Main ISIL Line of Communication
11/12/2015 03:16 PM CST

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A Kurdish peshmerga soldier takes the lead during urban combat maneuvering training held near Irbil, Iraq, Oct. 29, 2015. Training at the building partner capacity sites is an integral part of Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve’s multinational effort to train peshmerga soldiers to defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. U.S. Army photo by Spc. Tristan Bolden

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Coalition-Supported Iraqi Kurds Work to Cut Main ISIL Line of Communication

By Cheryl Pellerin DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON November 12, 2015 — In fighting over the past 24 hours, Iraqi Kurdish forces supported by coalition advisors and a coalition air campaign are working to cut the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant’s main communication line between Raqqa and Mosul, the Pentagon press secretary said today.

Targeting Highway 47 over Sinjar Mountain from the air and the Kurdish peshmerga ground operation will degrade ISIL’s ability to funnel fighters and equipment into Iraq, and it will help disrupt funding methods for their terrorist activities, Peter Cook told defense reporters here.

“This is another example of the pressure being applied to ISIL across multiple fronts,” he said, noting that since yesterday the coalition has conducted 36 airstrikes supporting the operation.

Cook said the larger operation is another front in the fight against ISIL, showing that pressure is being applied in many areas, including Iraq and Syria.

Good Time to Move

Peshmerga forces are carrying out the operation with the support of U.S. and coalition advisors, most of them behind the front lines, advising and working directly with peshmerga commanders to determine the best location for airstrikes, he added.

“This was an opportunity the Iraqi Kurdish forces saw right now, and working with the coalition, agreed that this was a good time to move on Sinjar Mountain and to try and cut off this particular supply line,” Cook said.

“Right now,” he added, “we’re assessing how that fight is going.”

Fighters to Incirlik

Earlier this week, Cook announced that six F-15C fighter jets had arrived at Incirlik Air Base in Turkey in response to the Turkish government’s request for support in securing Turkish airspace. “Turkey is a NATO ally, a friend of the United States, and an important partner in the international coalition against ISIL,” he added.

Today, six more aircraft — F-15E fighgters — arrived at Incirlik, Cook said, joining manned and remotely piloted aircraft already conducting counter-ISIL missions from Incirlik alongside Turkish F-16s.

Turkey’s role in counter-ISIL operations — including hosting U.S. assets and participating in coalition counter-ISIL air operations, cooperating to reduce the flow of foreign terrorist fighters, and supporting the vetted Syrian opposition — is critical to coalition efforts to bring stability to the region, Cook said.

Coalition Support

After a year at Sinjar, Cook said, ISIL will be dug in and will have put defensive measures in place to try and hold ground.

“We do not expect that this is going to be an easy fight,” he said. “But we do have confidence in the Iraqi Kurdish forces there, who have shown their capability in the past, and with the support of the coalition — particularly the air campaign — we think this is an opportunity to deal ISIL a blow.”

Cook also said the Justice Department had just announced that “an Ohio man had been arrested and charged with one count of solicitation of a crime of violence, “specifically, the murder of U.S. service members here in the homeland on behalf of ISIL.”

The Defense Department takes seriously any threats against its service members, Cook said. “We will use every tool at our disposal, partnering with other agencies, to protect our men and women in uniform,” he added.

(Follow Cheryl Pellerin on Twitter: @PellerinDoDNews)

Related Links

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Have another inquiry? Visit the online FAQ at http://www.defense.gov/landing/questions.aspx for up-to-date information.

Get the help you, your family, and fellow service members need, when you need it. Visit www.WarriorCare.mil to learn more.

Check out the National Resource Directory at www.nationalresourcedirectory.org, a new web-based resource for wounded, ill and injured service members, veterans, their families, families of the fallen and those who support them from the Departments of Defense, Labor, and Veterans Affairs.

This service is provided to you at no charge by U.S. Department of Defense. Visit us on the web at http://www.defense.gov/.

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