Online Program

We believe in community: Using creative arts to help student veterans cope

Tuesday, November 5, 2013 : 1:15 p.m. - 1:30 p.m.

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
The physical and psychological health of our returning veterans poses a growing and urgent public health challenge. With the escalating suicide rate affecting both veterans and their families and the wide spectrum of debilities impeding reintegration into civilian life, we need new and innovative strategies to help our veterans cope. Given the unusually long duration of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, many of these returning vets are entering our institutions of higher learning. At a major state university, we have seen more veterans enter nursing education, for a variety of reasons and with a vast array of issues requiring consideration and accommodation. In response, we sought and secured seed money to develop a workshop offering our student veterans the opportunity to learn new skills for self-exploration and stress reduction while also providing a community of like-minded allies to buffer the impersonal bureaucracy of a large state institution. We launched the Vets Creative Strengths project in the fall of 2012. The facilitation was interdisciplinary: Department of Disability Studies and Performance; Department of Psychiatry and the Art Institute; the College of Nursing. We devoted four weeks to each medium: self-exploration through visual art, personal narrative and performance. As we witnessed each others' struggles and creations, we bonded. Our work was showcased in an exhibit sponsored by the Art Institute: The Art of Connection. We plan to create our own installation at the University and look forward to sharing the applicability of what we learned with a wider peace-minded audience.

Learning Areas:

Other professions or practice related to public health
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs

Learning Objectives:
Explain the unique needs of student veterans. Discuss a creative arts program designed to support student veterans who struggle with challenges evolving from their deployment.

Keyword(s): Veterans' Health, Special Issues

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am on the faculty of the College of Nursing at the University of Illinois at Chicago as well as the Chicago Coordinator for Emergency, USA, which provides health care to civilian victims of war and poverty. I work to promote peace education and war prevention as public health strategies and also practice as a hospice nurse.
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.