July 22, 2012

Powerful Healing Journeys Through the Arts and The Military Experience

The mission of the Journal of Military Experience is to mentor veterans through the writing and arts process for publication in the JME. The feedback from talented writers, authors, and artists were instrumental in my decision to explore the Arts as a medium for healing. The high level of understanding of war trauma from the Eastern Kentucky University professors and support staff was phenomenal and no wonder the EKU Vets program was recognized as a National Program of the Year in 2011. I felt at home.

The first night we had an impromptu poetry and prose reading and barriers came down for story tellers near, connecting with other warrior veterans in this way inspired hope again. The bonds formed that night were carried over into classes enabling me to concentrate on interact genuinely rather than reacting from heightened senses. I was able to relax in the classes and interact with the participants and instructors, powerful people in different parts of healing journeys and felt an immediate affinity. 

As some of you may know, I have an anti-personal mind obstacle; being around people in public causes a range of constant triggering. Several times seeking refuge I forced myself to keep going back to share and bond and gravitated to others similarly affected by war. I met a pizza cook who didn't know how brilliant and vividly he could describe his experiences by word and a Vietnam veteran who had amassed decades of publishable poemsI met many different levels of writers, from published authors to veteran published and unpublished poets sparking an inspiration to write more poetry. It gives word to the disjointed in me, to examine and expound with context and content. 

I'm still overwhelmed with life and struggling with the basics, but after attending The Military Experience and Arts Symposium I have been able to divert my anxieties into creative projects. I started another rewrite of my combat narratives, flirting with the idea of submitting it to the Journal of Military Experience. I am also attempting to write an audition script for a graphic novel. I have no idea how to do that, but I am getting some good coaching from a graphic novelist and plugging along. It's a different aspect of writing to think in images, which causes more information from my memory to become triggered and a need to write that instead of the script and so forth. So, go and do something creative. Your life just may depend on it.


  1. Scott I noticed the first night we met that you were very guarded.I did see that uncomfortable feeling inside you, but as I watched you through the 3day event I saw your posture and inner self become less guarded. This may have a lot to do with the fact that you knew you were among friends towards the end with those that had been through similar events. You were also more guarded with me as a civilian at first but once you got to know me I saw that guardedness relax and open up more and you were much more reciprocal to me in my efforts to establish a friendship.

    1. Thank you Clayton for not taking my guardedness personally and allowing out friendship unfold. I do feel more comfortable around people who have shared the Military Experience. It does take a certain amount of time for me to open up in person, quite a stark difference than here.

  2. I belong to the Menifee Art Council in Menifee Calif. I am interested in beginning an art symposium for Vets. I would love to hear more about the program. I will be following your blog. Any advice you have would be helpful.
    Judy Howard

    1. Judy, I was a participant in the event and had a transformative time, the arts should have part of a robust and supportive treatment plan in every VA. I forwarded your information to the professor at Eastern Kentucky University who put on the symposium. I look forward to seeing the results of your interests.


Please share your comments, stories and information. Thank you. ~ Scott Lee