Veteran Therapy: Using Nature and Art as Healers
Day 8 of creating all the structure behind Veterans Art and Farm Therapy. Major parts such as EIN number, registered with IRS, made a business Plan, enlisted directors, created an email address, (email@example.com) and designed the web page (www.artandfarm.org and www.veteransartandfarm.com)
Here is the birth of our program
Years ago, I signed up to be Peace Corps Volunteer in Romania after graduating from Eastern VA Medical School with a degree in Art Therapy. My goal in life was to make a difference. They place me in Arad, Romania as a Social Work NGO (Non-Governmental Organization) volunteer. The same as a non-profit in the States. Here was my chance to help the needed. Instead, my Romanian Counterpart at the NGO Meeting Center literally drank coffee and read the paper all day long, everyday. It was the ultimate cushy job for the Romanian and absolutely dead useless for my goals of social change.
So, I left my counterpart and worked with a HIV orphan center, held conferences about art therapy activities for geriatrics on both sides of Romania, and worked with several European orphanages. I made my own way in Romania for 2.5 years but didn't really do any grand activity like I imaged. Sort of a bittersweet experience in my life. I survived (sweet) but changing the world into a better place? Umm.
Roll forward a few years. I teach Art instead of Art Therapy at a local high school. Now, I have years of experience helping kids in an activity I'm passionate about. I next start a horse and art summer camp at Stargazer Stables. I cultivate great clientèle and train wonderful horses for this endeavor. I have run this enterprise as the only staff with 6-8 teenage volunteers per week for 7 years. Parents are ecstatic, kids are cheerful. Yet, I feel that something vital is missing.
Adults are in just as much need of mental and physical support as kids. Equine therapy is all the rage right now. I understand that premise. Horses are a great catalysis for therapeutic recovery. But it is not just the horses that sooths. Everything about farm life settles the nerves, resets the brain, and allows the soul to heal. The word for it is Agra-therapy.
Many Veterans would prefer solitude and communion with nature. Watching Great Herons sit on top of a bridge waiting to eat fish or nurturing plants by culling the weeds is another tangible way of providing mental support. I already owned the perfect set up, have trained horses and am knowledgeable myself about how humans think. Veterans Art and Farm Therapy is the perfect avenue to make a positive impact in society.