Veterans find healing through art
Sometimes the worst injuries incurred in war zones are invisible. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) affects an estimated 11-20 percent of veterans who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs. Treatments available for veterans suffering from PTSD or Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), include cognitive behavioral therapy, medication and group therapy.
However, with the help of caring Advocate Condell Medical Center physicians who have served, veterans who have found more creative ways of dealing with the effects of PTSD and TBI are in the spotlight.
The “Warriors and Art: A Path to Healing” exhibit debuted earlier this month at the Art Center in Highland Park, Ill., with the help of Dr. Mark Nolan Hill, a surgeon at Advocate Condell in Libertyville, Ill.
“I’m honored to have been a part of this exhibit,” says Dr. Hill, a retired commissioned officer in the U.S. Navy, who helped to bring the project to life with his colleague Dr. Richard Markin, a Riverwoods, Ill., psychologist.
“This exhibit been going on for some years—we organized it and decided to start in Highland Park. The art is incredible,” Dr. Hill says. “Not only are the pieces remarkable, but they also say something. They show feelings and impressions of what these brave men and women went through.”
Dr. Hill was joined by Major Thomas Baier, US Army, an orthopedic surgeon at Advocate Condell who has served in both Iraq and Afghanistan; 2nd Lieutenant Raymond Smith, US Air Force (WWII); and Gunnery Sergeant David Thomas, US Marine Corps (Vietnam).
According to the American Art Therapy Association, art therapy can help returning soldiers reduce the symptoms of PTSD, while providing an outlet for expressing painful memories and enhancing coping skills.
“There’s no question we need to do more to help our veterans who suffer from PTSD,” says Dr. Hill. “As a physician, it’s my job to treat the whole person—mind, body and soul. This exhibit is our way of helping national heroes heals, while recognizing their incredible talent. Their art is a gift to us, as well as to them.”
The exhibit is at the Highland Park Art Center until July 14, and then begins a national tour that will ultimately end in Washington, D.C. For more information, click here.
Photo caption (Left to Right): Major Thomas Baier, US Army (active reserve) (Iraq, Afghanistan); 2nd Lieutenant Raymond Smith, US Air Force (inactive reserve) (WWII); Ensign Mark Nolan Hill, US Navy (inactive reserve); Gunnery Sergeant David Thomas, US Marine Corps (retired) (Vietnam)
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