Stigmas surrounding mental and physical health in the veteran community often make dealing with injuries above and beneath the surface challenging, but art therapy has been proven to be an efficient healing strategy.
NAPA Auto Parts has partnered with Fallen Heroes Fund to support the continued work at National Intrepid Center of Excellence, which focuses on the research, diagnosis, and treatment of military personnel and veterans suffering from traumatic brain injury and psychological health conditions.
“I’ll always be haunted by having an anger outburst in front of my children and that look on their face–it’s bad. My motivation is for me to not ever have to see that on their face again and then it became get better for myself,” said Francisco Galindo Master Sgt USAF.
Intrepid provides group and individual art therapy sessions that allow service members and their families an outlet to cope with TBI and chronic pain management-related problems. According to a study from Journal of The American Art Therapy Association, art therapy was more effective than other therapies because it provided pleasurable distraction along with exposure to difficult experiences.
“It can help a patient express not just emotion but feelings that they might not verbally express to their caregivers,” David Winters, president of Fallen Heroes Fund, tells connectingvets.com “With all the centers that are open so far we’re seeing over 90 present of the service members that are treated in the centers are able to return to their regular duty in the armed forces.”
Along with painting, patients often work with masks. These blank canvases allow service members to use whatever artistic choices they’d like and in the creation of the mask art, they can convey experiences that might not be easily expressed through conversation.
In 2016, NAPA donated over $2.5 million to the Intrepid Fallen heroes Fund as part of their “Get Back and Give Back” campaign, an annual initiative that allows NAPA customers to contribute to the fund by purchasing IFHF merchandise.
There are currently Intrepid centers across five military installations around the United States, two currently under construction at Camp Pendleton and Joint Base Lewis-McChord are scheduled to open within the next year.