Online Program

Veterans creative strength: An innovative response to student veterans' special needs

Monday, November 4, 2013

Geraldine Gorman, RN, PhD, College of Nursing at University of Illinois at Chicago, Department of Health Systems Science, Chicago, IL
Stephanie Ezell, BA, RN, College of Nursing, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL
With the war in Afghanistan in its 11th year, more veterans are attempting to assimilate into society. A growing number are entering our schools and colleges of nursing. These students can require special accommodations and adaptations based on their combat related experiences and/or disabilities. They face challenges rarely acknowledged by faculty and administrators. Among these are: avoidance that arises from feeling detached and different from traditional college students; hyper-arousal after having experienced a traumatic event; difficulty with focus and concentration. With a small seed grant from our university, we designed a support workshop for the student veterans in the College of Nursing. Using an interdisciplinary approach which included facilitators from Disability Studies, the Department of Psychiatry, the Art Institute and the College of Nursing, we conducted weekly group sessions with our student vet participants utilizing the visual arts, writing and performance to foster both coping skills and community. The workshop was entitled Veterans Creative Strengths, and the artistic works of our students were featured in an exhibition curated by the Art Institute entitled The Art of Connection. In this session we will describe lessons learned from this creative venture and the applications for student vets in general and for those within colleges of nursing in particular. Issues related to our veterans pose a major challenge to public health. Utilizing the arts as a means of self-expression holds great potential for reducing stress and isolation and for fostering a healing community within a larger educational institution.

Learning Areas:

Administer health education strategies, interventions and programs
Advocacy for health and health education
Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs
Public health or related education
Public health or related nursing

Learning Objectives:
Discuss challenges faced by student veterans in general and veterans in schools of nursing in particular Explain how the creative arts may be used to foster coping strategies and self-exploration Evaluate lessons learned from an interdisciplinary creativearts pilot project and it applicability to other educational institutions

Keyword(s): Veterans

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am faculty in the College of Nursing and PI on the grant for the Creative Arts Project.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.