VIDEO: Veterans Look Back to Move Foward

Vietnam Veterans and an Iraqi Veteran use art therapy to contain and heal from traumatic memories of war.

The Montrose VA Hospital has pioneered a shadow box art therapy program that helps veterans to recover from traumatic war experiences.

"The presentation is about empowering two Vietnam Veteran PTSD groups to express aspects of their combat experience through the expressive arts, using creativity, imagination, collaboration, and community integration," the project's press release explains.

Art therapist Rosemarie Rogers, LCAT and psychologist Barbara Smith, PhD, worked with hesitant but willing veterans to create shadow boxes to contain their traumatic memories and move beyond them.

The project has been broken down into three phases. The first was the physical construction of the boxes to contain visual narratives of being "in country," and then writing about their experiences.

The boxes were displayed at Rockland Community College last Veterans Day. Over the last year, the veterans moved on to the second phase of the project, using art, writing and drama to explore what it was like to return home after combat. The last phase, which depicts their current reality, was integrated into the original work.

Rogers and Smith anticipate that the essays written at each phase will eventually become the basis of a short play.

View the video above to hear from several veterans about their projects and how it has helped them heal.

Veterans shown in video:

  • Iraqi War Veteran Anthony Sampogna, OIFOEF, 2005-2009, U.S. Embassy Sgt.; Verplanck resident

Vietnam War Veterans:

  • Bruce Wichtendahl, U.S. Army Sgt., 1st Cavalry Division (air mobile); Stony Point resident
  • Bernie Doyle, Medic in the 25th Infantry Division, Palisades resident
  • Bob Ferguson, Army Specialist 4, 101st Airborne Division; Mahopac resident



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