Exploring Symptoms of PTSD and Therapeutic Benefits of Artmaking for Combat Veteran Artists
The mental health concerns among veterans in The United States is a critical issue since there has been repeatedly reported that combat veterans suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI). Some factors in a combat situation can add more stress to an already stressful situation. This may contribute to PTSD and other mental health problems. Despite the significant issues, many returning veterans do not have a proper evaluation, screening, or treatments of PTSD during and after their time in service. Research has reported that fifty percent of veterans with PTSD do not seek treatment; 19% of veterans may have traumatic brain injury (TBI); and PTSD distribution between services for Operation New Dawn (OND), Operations Iraqi Freedom (OIF), and Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) are 67% of Army, 9%, of Air Force, 11% of Navy, and 13% of Marines (Congressional Research Service, Sept. 2010). As previous research explored the symptoms of PTSD among veterans and treatment, PTSD manifests through physical and psychological symptoms that result from a traumatic experience. Anxiety symptoms of avoidance and reoccurrence significantly impact social function. The research paper discusses combat stress-induced symptoms and describes various modalities of treatments for combat veterans with PTSD symptoms. The benefits of their engagement with art making are emphasized. Through historical research, two artists from the United States Veterans Artist Alliance (USVAA) have been chosen. These artists have had traumatic experiences, one of limb loss and the other of having been active duty. Several paintings of these two artists are analyzed to explore their experiences as veterans to see if there are any possible symptoms or signs of PTSD that manifested in their artwork, as well as any therapeutic benefits of art making." The findings of the study are that there are some PTSD related symptoms such as anxiety, sense of unsettlement, sense of loneliness, difficulties in integrating into society, and denial. Additionally, therapeutic benefits of their art making cover a sense of purpose, social interactions, self-expression, increased self-worth, and an increased sense of belonging to their community. The implications of the study are that artmaking is particularly beneficial for post-active military veterans to find their own journey back to reintegrate into their community.