Finding peace and quiet can feel difficult at times. Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) art class participants have found a way to find solace in creating something new. While these classes are typically offered in person, they were switched to a virtual setting in 2020.
Elizabeth Busker, Marine Corps veteran, explained how the accessibility of a virtual art class is what allowed her to jump in. “I really like the experience of bringing people together and the social aspect. These classes just opened up another opportunity for me to be involved and do things that I like,” said Elizabeth.
Learn more about WWP events that connect warriors to each other.
A Hands-On Expression
Warriors explained that one of their favorite parts of the art classes is their ability to do hands-on activities. Justin Cook, a Navy veteran, said this is helpful to his creativity. “During the glass fusion class, they said to pick two colors to work with. Well, I decided to pick three colors,” he said. “Even though they don’t normally do that, mine came out really well. It was pretty fun to have the only piece with three different colors.”
These classes were something Justin and his wife, Valerie, who is also a Navy veteran, could participate in together. Valerie enjoyed creating something she could keep.
“I loved getting to create something from glass,” Valerie said. “It’s not a common medium to work with. Getting to do that and being able to make something I could take home was really cool.”
Creating Art Brings Calmness
Valerie also finds that making art is an effective way to forget about everyday stress. “It helps get out of your own head to just be there, be present, focus on what you’re doing, and forget anything else,” Valerie said. “Part of art is having a creative mindset that allows you to escape. It’s definitely something I recommend trying out.”
Army Reserve veteran Clarissa Renfroe has always loved arts and crafts but found that participating in the classes at WWP gave her the confidence to explore art on her own.
“When I do the art classes at Wounded Warrior Project, there’s something about it that’s just peaceful,” Clarissa said. “Creating art makes me want to do it more, to the point where I try it on my own. I feel that if I see art that’s been done before, I know I can do it, too. If I see something I want to re-create, I’ll find another way to do it. These classes have really opened me up to different avenues and finding ways to do something different.”
Elizabeth said that the combination of working with her hands and getting to connect with fellow warriors is what she appreciated most about the art classes. “Making things with my hands makes me more present and focused. It helps the rest of us heal together because not only are we focusing on doing things with our hands — we are having conversations.”
Bonding Through Shared Experiences
Valerie found that the camaraderie was what made the art classes so invaluable. “Not everyone’s wounds are visible. It helps being able to be with others who are in similar situations,” she said. “If you are not physically wounded, you could be hurting in a different way, and you’re able to talk to other people who have been in that situation. It’s this feeling that you are not alone, you’re not broken, and you’re healing yourself. You have people there to help you.”
Justin agreed. “Everyone has their own place on their journey, and it’s amazing how Wounded Warrior Project is able to meet veterans where they are.”
Elizabeth felt comfortable in the art classes being among veterans as well. “Maybe you’re looking for validation, and suddenly you find out that the same things that happened to you happened to others as well. It is a place that I can go to and feel that it’s a part of my toolbox.”
Clarissa enjoys not only the camaraderie but the comfort she gets in being surrounded by other warriors: “There is [a] sense of peace being among veterans. I don’t get as shy as I sometimes do around civilians. Sometimes I don’t talk too much when I go to Wounded Warrior Project events because we all just want to relax and feel at peace in a safe environment. It feels as though we know each other even though we don’t.”
Clarissa explained how the stories of other warriors provide comfort as well. “You never know what you may come across in a WWP class; whether it be good advice or something that helps in your daily life, I’ve heard so many different stories from the others in the art classes. I could tell you [that in] every class I’ve ever been in, I’ve heard a touching story that’s changed my life.”
“It’s just a sense of peace and space and camaraderie. In the military, you don’t always have a lot of family near you since you move around a lot. Wounded Warrior Project to me means family outside of my family,” Clarissa said.
Contact: Erin Cinney, Public Relations, firstname.lastname@example.org, 904.832.5326
About Wounded Warrior Project
Since 2003, Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) has been meeting the growing needs of warriors, their families, and caregivers — helping them achieve their highest ambition. Learn more.