Updated 03/20/2013 06:50 PM
Local veterans create art to manage PTSD symptoms
For veterans returning from war, PTSD can be a debilitating illness. Now VA hospitals throughout the country are using the creative arts as a form of treatment. Our Candace Hopkins has a look at one local veteran who is fulfilling two roles in the program as student and teacher.
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SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- Reginald Adams always knew he loved art, and wanted to spend his life creating it. But during World War II, Adams was forced to put that dream aside. He served with the Navy in the Pacific.
After returning home he went on to teach art for 34 years. But when retirement came, he found he wasn't ready to stop sharing his passion.
"When you're trained as a teacher you have to teach, it's just part of you, because the rewards are great. I love working with people," said Adams.
That's why Adams has dedicated his retirement to teaching veterans, like himself, to create art. The program is used to help manage PTSD symptoms and is underway at VA hospitals across the nation, including the Syracuse Medical Center. He says the process can be a great distraction for the veterans.
"When you get involved with it, you are so involved with it you don't think of anything else. I don't pre-determine what it's going to be, because I can't prognosticate the future, and they can't either, and they're always surprised," said Adams.
The patients can enter their artwork into the Annual Veterans Creative Arts Competition. It's a national contest. In 2010 Adams took home the top prize for his lithograph. But the contest and process is about much more than just winning.
"It keeps me mentally healthy, because unless you have some objective in life and you have some kind of payoff, you don't live very long, and I see that with some of the veterans," said Adams.
And that's the message Adams hopes to pass on to other veterans, looking for meaning in their post-service lives.
All of the local entries for this year's competition are currently on display at the Delavan Art Gallery and the Everson Museum through the end of March. The winners from Syracuse will be judged in the national competition in Reno at the end of the month.
Click here for more information: http://www.va.gov/opa/speceven/caf/index.asp