The ability to express yourself is vital for your mental health. For veterans, this process can be extremely challenging. Just ask Miette Wells.

A U.S. Air Force veteran and survivor of military sexual trauma and Traumatic Brain Injury, Wells struggled to both express herself and be understood after returning from her service in Panama and Kuwait. She turned to journaling in an attempt to free her mind and get her feelings on paper.

“At the time I didn’t realize it was an outlet for a lot of the things I went through,” Wells said in an interview with Texas’s CBS19 news. “I could say exactly what was on my mind – even though it was to a piece of paper.”

Wells’s journaling provided solace from her hardships, ultimately leading her to begin a life of serving and advocating for veterans.

She returned to school to study psychology with the hopes of helping veterans, like herself, who needed something other than traditional therapy.

Art therapy of all kinds, Wells came to find, was a great way to help veterans begin the healing process. That’s why she started the monthly art classes at the Community Connections building in Longview, Texas.

Fifty-seven veterans attended these classes, free of charge, and were given a new outlet for expression, as well as a community of veterans to encourage them.

“The art workshops provided an avenue for the veterans to express themselves, explore their emotions, manage addictions, and improve their self-esteem and engage with other veterans,” Wells said.

The workshops culminated at the local Veterans Creative Arts Festival, which was attended by over 100 veterans, many of whom were awarded and recognized for their artistic achievements.
“This has been an amazing experience,” one veteran said. “I did not know I could feel better by painting.”

Learn how to apply for a Veterans Creative Arts Festival grant through the American Legion Auxiliary Foundation at http://alafoundation.org/apply-for-a-veterans-creative-arts-festival-vcaf-mini-grant-through-the-american-legion-auxiliary-foundation/, or support these grants through a donation Click here to make a donation.