• Art, Equine, and Music Therapy Resources for Vets

    Photo Credit: TeddyBear [Picnic]. From FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

    Photo Credit: TeddyBear [Picnic]. From FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

    Years of war in Afghanistan and Iraq have brought PTSD to our attention as never before. Today, hundreds of thousands of service men and women and recent military veterans have seen combat. Many have been shot at, seen their buddies killed, or witnessed death up close. These are types of events that can lead to PTSD.

    The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs estimates that PTSD afflicts:

    • Almost 31 percent of Vietnam veterans
    • As many as 10 percent of Gulf War (Desert Storm) veterans
    • 11 percent of veterans of the war in Afghanistan
    • 20 percent of Iraqi war veterans

    While many vets today seek PTSD treatment through cognitive behavioral therapy and other traditional methods, more and more vets are finding help through less traditional forms of therapy. Consider the following:

    EQUINE THERAPY:

    Equine Assisted Psychotherapy for PTSD has gathered the attention of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, which has provided grants for practitioners to run equine assisted therapy groups with troops returning from Afghanistan and Iraq. Preliminary results are favorable, suggesting statistically significant rates of change.

    The Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association (EAGALA) also evaluated treatment of members of the Georgia National Guard where deployments averaged two years or more. The study revealed that 100 percent of soldiers who completed therapy had dramatically reduced stress levels.

    Animal-assisted therapy has shown evidenced-based efficacy in patients including war veterans with PTSD, depression, anxiety, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, conduct disorders, dissociative disorders, and other chronic mental illnesses.

    Calico Junction, Hohenwald, TN
    Horses that Heal
    ,  Avalon Farms in Fayetteville, North Carolina
    Hope thru Horses, Lumber Bridge, North Carolina
    Strengthening Strides, Raeford, North Carolina
    Horses for Heros, Central Kentucky Riding for Hope, Lexington, Kentucky
    Obtain a nationwide equine therapy list for vets from Operation We are Here 

    ART THERAPY:

    The VA offers art therapy in 15 VA medical centers across the nation. Veterans who participate in art therapy find ongoing mutual support, learn to understand and cope with their symptoms, and enhance their strengths and abilities to re-enter their communities, and improve their outlook on life.

    Veterans Writing Project
    Combat Paper Project
    Operation Oak Tree, Chicago
    Programs through Veteran’s hospitals and the American Art Therapy Association
    The Foundation for Art and Healing
    Photography, The Foundation for Art and Healing

    MUSIC THERAPY:

    In recent years, the VA has doubled the number of music therapists in VA hospitals and rehab centers. Studies show that music can trigger the brain to release chemicals that distract the body from pain. When music reaches the brain’s auditory cortex, communication takes place between the cortex and the brain’s areas that control emotion, memory, and motor control.

    The Foundation for Art and Healing
    Guitars for Vets
    Semper Sound: Military Music Therapy Program for Vets
    CAMMO: Center for American Military Music Opportunities

    What about you? Have you participated in a program that has assisted your healing from trauma and PTSD? How did it help you? We’d love to hear from you.

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