Northwest Military Blogs: Army West Blog

Posts made in: 'Hobbies' (4) Currently Viewing: 1 - 4 of 4

April 6, 2012 at 10:16am

Workshop teaches resiliency through art

Workshop participants Jane Cherney, left, Karen Zeiders, middle, and Georgia Reitmire work on their circus character drawings during a recent Resiliency throught Art seminar on JBLM Lewis Main. (Scott Hansen/Northwest Guardian)

On canvas a clown touches a window pane. Visible through it stands the home he can't touch. Painted by a Vietnam veteran, the face paint represents his struggles with post-traumatic stress, the glass symbolizes his alienation, and out of reach beyond it is home, the place he loves the most.

The work communicates a profound reality that the artist found difficult to put into words.

"We can talk around a problem, but art therapy forces you to get to the most primitive areas of your brain where words aren't even connected," Maureen Harvey, an Oklahoma City Veterans Administration Medical Center art therapist, said at Joint Base Lewis-McChord last week.

Harvey was a core trainer for a two-day workshop, called "Resiliency through Art," which made its second stop on its three-installation tour, March 26 to 27. The U.S. Army Installation Management Command program is supported by the Army's Comprehensive Soldier Fitness program and the American Art Therapy Association.

Multiple art projects during the two days encouraged creativity and self reflection, while accompanying information sessions included topics like PTS and traumatic brain injury. Civil servants from across JBLM attended the "train the trainer" event developed by a team of AATA art therapists to support CSF. The team members, all accredited by the Art Therapy Credentials Board, are experts in military health care, art therapy and resilience training.

"The Army is already on board with (art therapy,) I just think the issue is the persistence in sticking with it. Given the opportunity to express themselves, people will stand back and realize ‘I didn't even realize I was feeling that way,'" Harvey said.

She stressed art therapy's benefits to Soldiers and Airmen who have served on multiple deployments during America's longest conflict, enabling them to clarify thoughts and get in touch with complex, sometimes hidden emotions.

"They can reframe a lot of what's been going on with them, then be able to pull back and see what's important to them," she said, "see the family they care about and not only just the pain they're dealing with - see the bigger picture."

Gloria Rodgers, arts and crafts director of the JBLM DFMWR Community Recreation Division, attended the workshop and said she's looking forward to sharing the information she learned.

"We need this," she said. "(Art therapy skeptics) need to sit in on one of these classes; I think it would change their minds completely."

Rodgers, an Army civilian at the former Fort Lewis since 1972, said she has a stress outlet similar to the projects she tackled last week, so she knew of their therapeutic values.

"I crochet one-of-a-kind items and I don't concentrate on anything but that blanket," she said. "This is the same really. These are projects that practice overcoming obstacles."

Other Soldiers and Army civilians from installations as far as Fort Huachuca, Ariz., came to JBLM for the two-day training.

Jean Neal, an employee of IMCOM Community Relations who coordinated the three-installation swing, said its first stop at Fort Hood, Texas was very eventful.

"We had people come over from their (Warrior Training Unit) and the military family life consultants," she said. "We had a Soldier who was assigned to WTU's arts and crafts. He worked there during the day and in the evening he'd go into the wood shop and work on building a guitar. He wasn't too engaged in what was going on (during the day,) but he did follow the activities. On the last day, we made a circle and he spoke about the guitar and how his grandfather, who was a carpenter, taught him how to build one. The social worker and the arts and crafts director there said that was the most they had ever heard him speak or open up."

Neal and the program's core trainers will meet with local trainers and students when they converge on Fort Drum, N.Y., April 23 to 24.

Filed under: Arts, Fort Lewis, Hobbies, Veterans,

April 6, 2012 at 10:11am

Brigade hosts motorcycle safety course

"During the last fiscal year, the Army lost 45 Soldiers to motorcycle accidents," Ed Cartwright, 593rd Sustainment Brigade safety officer, said. "One is too many."

Cartwright, along with Sgt. Maj. Julio Bensimon, 593rd Sust. Bde. support operations sergeant major and brigade motorcycle safety officer, decided to do something about the alarming statistic. They contacted Bruce Thomas, the Washington State Motorcycle Safety Program manager in Olympia, and asked him if he would be willing to conduct an instructor course at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

"I jumped at the chance to run the course," Thomas, a retired Coast Guard warrant officer, said. "I love working with the military and I love motorcycles. Typically, anybody involved in teaching motorcycle skills has a passion for it because it sure doesn't pay that well."

The course is officially titled the "RiderCoach Preparation Course" and lasts a total of 60 hours, to include classroom training, as well as road training.

"(The students) are becoming instructors to teach a Motorcycle Safety Foundation Basic Rider Course and the Experienced Rider Course," Thomas said. "These guys will be able to run this course for folks that have never been on motorcycles before and to take folks that have been on motorcycles and bring them into an experienced class.

"The most dangerous places in our state are in corners, where the majority of fatalities happen, because of a lack of skill. A lot of riders don't have enough skill to swerve the bike or to stop the bike effectively.

"This program incorporates how to corner, how to corner better and it teaches the students to stop better each time," Thomas said. "With these guys, you have Soldiers teaching Soldiers skills that are actually going to save lives."

The class was offered to unit motorcycle mentors so they could pass the skills on to Soldiers in their units.

"When a mentor earns this certification, it gives them added credibility and legitimacy to the unit's motorcycle mentorship program, enabling them to keep their Soldiers safe," Cartwright said.

Soldiers from 1st Special Forces Group; 17th Fires Brigade; 2nd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division; 555th Engineer Brigade and 62nd Medical Brigade sent representatives to take the training.

First Lt. Patrick Lantagne, an intelligence officer assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 13th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, enrolled in the course because he wanted to gain credibility as a motorcycle safety officer for his unit.

"Now I can instruct and mentor bikers who are somewhat new to (riding motorcycles) and just getting out learning the basics of riding," he said. "We are able to instill in them values and skills they might not learn otherwise. We don't want them going out and using driving skills that are unsafe and that might lead to them hurting themselves or hurting others."

Lantagne has been riding motorcycles for 13 years and was still amazed at the amount of knowledge he gained during the course.

"The class has been really eye-opening for me," he said. "No matter how good of a rider you think you are, you can always improve and you can always learn something that you might not have known before.

"You get to operate with other experienced motorcyclists and get insight from them and their style of teaching, riding and how they see, evaluate and execute each task in order to be safe out on the road."

Filed under: Hobbies, Training,

October 1, 2010 at 2:17pm

'Taliban' shooter feature pulled from video game

This from Military Times: Video gamers no longer will be able to fight and kill American troops as members of the “Taliban” in the upcoming first-person shooter “Medal of Honor,” Military Times has learned. Instead, they’ll fight and kill American troops as “the opposing force,” a response to criticism from service members’ families and others.

For more on the story, click here.

Filed under: Hobbies, News To Us,

August 27, 2010 at 3:41pm

Users can play Taliban, kill U.S. troops in new video game

A new first-person shooter video game has some up in arms about some of the game's features.

By allowing players to assume the role of Taliban fighters killing U.S. troops, Redwood City-based (Calif.) Electronic Arts may have crossed the line with its latest first-person shooter game, a line that Mountain View resident Karen Meredith says was drawn with the blood of soldiers like her only son, according to the San Jose Mercury News.

For more on the story, click here.

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