Veterans Find Self Expression and Therapy
Moderatrix’ Incredibly Verbose Note: The linked article in Stars & Stripes held a couple of problems for me. One: It gave an impression that pharmaceutical therapy is somehow not a reasonable treatment for people dealing with mental health or anxiety disorders. This should not be taken as the opinion of myself, nor any member of the FWD/Forward team. I believe that it shows how stigmatized that direction of therapy can be, and how mental health services can be socialized to make men feel “weak” for needing them. How a person chooses to treat their mental health or social anxiety disorders is between themselves and their health care provider. Comments judging this course of therapy will be deleted and the commenter possibly banned pending a review. I will not have someone coming to this board and seeing their choice of therapy, which is helping them, mocked or dismissed.
Two: The linked article says that bibliotherapy is “poetry therapy”, when nothing I have found is that specific. Anything that I have found online, as well as my background in Greek and Latin root words, says that bibliotherapy is any type of therapy using the written word as supplemental therapy. I found that statement by the S&S writer misleading. I am willing to be corrected, but I am more inclined to believe that it is a part of a broad spectrum of treatment options. I find it like saying that “pharmaceutical therapy” means keeping someone pumped full of morphine all the time (not that there is anything wrong with that if that is what you need to manage your specific needs).
Nonetheless, I found the article incredibly interesting, and am ecstatic to find that veterans are finding ways to get care in ways that make them comfortable. Enjoy.
Spc. Victoria Montenegro received an Army Commendation Medal, complete with a “V” for Valor for helping her other team mates when her vehicle exploded in Karbala, Iraq. That same accident also threw shrapnel into her forehead and right eye. It gave her a complex fracture and bone loss in her left hand.
It also left her with PTSD.
Spc. Matt Ping also came back from “The Sandbox”, his time spent in Northern Afghanistan, he found himself mixing flashback with childhood memories. For him, the thought of a pharmaceutical approach, the normal approach taken by the VA, was too unappealing.
For both of them, a different kind of therapy program has been incredibly beneficial.
The Walter Reed Medical Center in Washington, D.C. has a program, run by Roseanne Singer, that helps veterans deal with their PTSD through the written word, mostly poetry. Participants are welcome to come to an informal gathering that takes place in the lobby of the Mologne House. Participants are under no obligation to participate, they may come whenever they feel comfortable, talk as much or as little as they like, and share or not share what they have written. The program does not analyze or critique, but rather focuses on getting veterans who find it otherwise difficult to communicate their feelings to convey them through writing. Or, as Ping , also now a part of Lisa Rosenthal’s Vet Art Project in Chicago describes poetry therapy:
“Poetry helps me deal with coming back to a society that’s gone in a different direction,” Ping said. “Coming home is one of the strangest things I’ve ever encountered. The 16 months of isolation and being secluded and then coming back and trying to be the same person you were before you left. I don’t know if that’s possible.”
Ping also has a blog where he shares his poetry (I have only scanned the front page, and I make no guarantees about triggering language).
Montenegro’s poetry focuses on the pain of being a “young, short, wounded female in a world of men,”.
“A lot of times around the hospital, I’d be mistaken for somebody’s family member,” she said. “It bugged me.”
Overall, finds the self-paced program beneficial, and enjoys the control over her own healing the . There is no pressure to heal at an expected rate, no one telling her that she should be over it by now. If she doesn’t want to share something, she doesn’t have to.
You can read her poem “Perspectives” (which I thought was moving) at the S&S link, and if you have a flash player you can listen to her read it.
The more ways we find to help our returning troops the better. If they aren’t thriving in the traditional therapy programs (and I can understand why), or if they aren’t being given proper therapy in addition to their drug treatments (I can relate), then we need to find therapy programs that do help them. We owe it to them.