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Creative Forces: Healing the Invisible Wounds of War

A Pathway to Healing

Explore veteran artwork and perspectives, as well as related research, on how creative arts therapies can provide a pathway to healing from wartime trauma. 

blank mask
The Journey Begins

The works of art you will encounter in this exhibit began as a blank paper mache mask, canvas, piece of paper, or raw material such as wood, sand, clay, steel, fabric, and leather. They began as a drum beat, music note, or first strum on the guitar; or as a word, movement, or memory. This blank mask represents where many of these service members and veterans began in treatment: contemplating their identities and how their wartime experiences have shaped and continue to shape their lives. Through creative arts therapies treatment, service members and veterans from across the Creative Forces Network are given the materials needed to begin making meaning of those experiences. As evidenced by this exhibit, some continue engaging in the arts when treatment ends as a means to further their investigation into the things that matter most in their journeys forward.

Early Stage of Treatment

Improved PTSD Symptom Awareness

Watch this video to hear service members and veterans share insights into how creative arts therapies can help process trauma through improved awareness of PTSD symptoms.

Top:"'Behind the Mask': Her Name is Testimony"
Left: "Pain Invisible"
Right: "The Duality of a Combat Veteran"

"6 ft Down in 60" Score

Middle Stage of Treatment

Improved social interaction

Hear how creative arts therapies can help service members and veterans reduce isolation and stigma through improved interaction with family, peers, and providers

Top: "Lakota"
Left: "Traditions Reflected"
Right: "Face Without A Name" Album Artwork

"Dear Family" Album Artwork

Late Stage of Treatment

Improve Ability to Experience Hope and Gratification

Watch this video to hear how creative arts therapies can improve the ability to experience hope and gratification.

Top: "View from the Lifeguard Stand"
Bottom: "Never Alone,"

image of cherry blossom flowers

Bloom Where We Are Planted

The song lyrics are reflective of the author coming out of the darkness of injury and discovering the light of recovery, which cast a new perspective on his life.

Headshot of michael schneider
Michael Schneider

Related Research

Early Stage Treatment

Learn how creative arts therapies can improve awareness and tolerance of symptoms such as hypervigilance, pain, and stress.

Middle Stage Treatment

Learn how creative arts therapies can help reduce isolation and stigma through meaningful interaction with others and improved communication with family, peers, and providers.

Late Stage Treatment

Learn how creative arts therapies can foster the ability to experience hope and gratification, and build increased confidence through strengths-based rehabilitation.