By Colleen Flaherty
Fort Hood Herald
Entries are now being accepted for the annual All-Army Arts and Crafts Contest.
Each installation will send its five best entries in categories ranging from ceramics to textiles to Installation Management Command in San Antonio, for possible cash prizes and national-level judging at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., said Barbara Newberry, Apache Arts and Crafts Center director.
"It's a really great recognition," said Newberry. "I've been here 13 years, and every year we've had Fort Hood winners."
Last year, Fort Hood Spc. Larraine Sy won honorable mention in the novice drawing category for her work, "Skull." Artists from other installations took 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place in the category nationally.
In addition to national recognition, Newberry said the benefits of art are vast, particularly for combat veterans who can use it as a constructive outlet for their thoughts and experiences.
The Apache Arts and Crafts Center, which recently opened a free, unstructured art facility for soldiers, has seen an uptick in active-duty military personnel visits in recent years, said the director.
"Before the Iraq War, I would have told you (we see) more spouses and retirees," said Newberry. "But now we're seeing the active-duty soldiers far surpassing the other categories, which is great because, obviously, it's an outlet for them and a way to help cope."
Martha Haesler, a Connecticut-based art therapist and director of the Giant Steps art therapy program at the VA Connecticut Healthcare System, came to Fort Hood last month to oversee a "Resiliency Through Art" workshop for arts and crafts managers.
Art can be a powerful tool in helping soldiers reintegrate into civilian life, she said, and a way to help veterans find their strengths and practice positive psychology.
"When people are really stressed, art can help them be in the moment, so that they don't have to be thinking about their fears or the future," she said. "It's something people can do and feel very good about themselves, because they're using all of their intellect, and it's physical - it's really about the whole person."
Additionally, she said, because post-traumatic stress disorder can be caused by memories stored in the deep brain, art - which activates the deep brain, as well as the frontal lobe - can help veterans face such memories in a safe environment.
"A lot the younger veterans coming into my VA, they come (to me) through the substance abuse program, because there's still some stigma attached to PTSD," said Haesler. "At first they might not want to do as much, but the art room becomes the one place they can just be. Nobody's going to ask them to do anything, it's just a very, very comfortable place."
Contact Colleen Flaherty at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7559. Follow her on Twitter at KDHFortHood.
Entries are now being accepted for the annual All-Army Arts Contest.
Art work may be submitted in the following categories, at both the novice and accomplished (formally trained) levels:
Fibers and textiles
Glass, metals and jewelry
Mixed media (2-D)
Mixed media (3-D)
Oil base painting
Water base painting
The contest is open to active-duty soldiers, airmen, reservists, retirees, National Guard soldiers and families, Gold Star Family members, and Defense Department employees and their families.
To submit your entry, go to http://www.armymwr.com/recleisure/artsandcrafts/default.aspx.
For more information, call (254) 532-2586.