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By Paula Aragon, VA Public Affairs
Albuquerque, N.M. - Here at the VA, there are areas that offer innovative ways to help out Vets work through varying issues that range from PTSD, anxiety to panic attacks, just to name a few.
The Recreation Therapy Program offers a wide variety of programs, but one, in particular, is the creative writing class, which is offered on Thursdays at 8:15 in the morning and runs about an hour and 45 minutes.
The class assignment for the week of 25 November 2018, was to write a piece that compared the differences in how men and women view a particular topic or experience. One gentleman, Jim, wrote about his fondness for his blue Hawaiian shirt with white flowers and how is wife asked him repeatedly, “You’re not going to wear that, are you?” Overall, everyone at the table could relate, and it evoked conversation and laughter.
Another individual, Chuck, wrote a poem as an ode to a fellow participant, named Earl. This poem was deep and some parts were dark. The writer wanted to have a better understanding of the emotional pain Earl experiences on any given day. The ebbs and flow of the poem were cathartic. It conjured up memories for those at the table. Certain parts of the poem were just singular words such as pain, mud and alone.
Given that this poem was long, those single words created a poem. A poem within a poem.
The poem caused a stir of conversations. Earl, for one was very appreciative, yet apologetic. He felt his own works many have triggered something in Chuck, which he didn’t quite understand. Although that was not the case. What it did do was show Earl that his fellow writer cared and wanted to help Earl in his healing process. A willingness to understand what someone saw, felt and went through is powerful.
Another gentleman, Mark, wrote a story similar to Jim’s, which concerned an article of clothing. The overall piece was how a day like any other work day should have been, but this one specific day started off bad and progressively got worse. His piece was not only funny, it placed different visuals on the minds of those around the table.
Like Jim’s piece, laughter was key. One member stated that despite all of the bad memories they carry, this particular exercise brought about some funny memories. Knowing that the good stuff is still within them and learning to refocus on that, while acknowledging some of the bad is a way to help in the healing process.
This class not only showcases the exceptional talent they have, it also is a form of therapy that goes beyond measure. They sharing of thoughts, feelings and the basic need to get whatever is bothering them off their chests is very therapeutic.
Writing, comradery and a common ground are what can make the healing process more attainable. For this group of people they type of therapy not only works within themselves, it also helps those who are there to listen have a better understanding and that they are not alone.
If you are interested in the class, you can contact Recreation Therapy Program @ 505-265-1711 ext. 4160.
Includes a PTSD Resources page.
Click for main VA website