How I Used Photography to Cope with PTSD After War November 11, 2016 11:27

Every year on November 11th, America honors the nation’s veterans on Veterans Day. There are 21.8 million veterans in the US, roughly 7% of the population, according to the 2014 Census Bureau. Sadly, often times the horrors of war follow the veterans home. More than 20% of troops who served in Iraq or Afghanistan have come home with PTSD, and 12% of America’s homeless are veterans. Art, for these veterans, is a place of refuge.

By Clyde R. Horn, PhD.

I'm proud that I answered the call to my country. Sacrifice and honor is a big deal to veterans. I'm proud to wear my veteran hat, Purple Heart insignia, and stand tall. Freedom is the backbone of America, and I'm part of the proud tradition of helping America stay free. I was in the 199th Light Infantry Brigade. We flew in helicopters all over Vietnam, and we were dropped off for several weeks at a time into the jungles. Then, we returned to the Saigon area for several days for showers, hot food, and entertainment. Then it was back to the jungles fighting the enemy.

When I returned from Vietnam in 1968, it was hard times. Being in war changed my life, having come close to death many times, being wounded, and seeing death all around me. I was traumatized. I wasn't able to reveal I was a veteran for fear of being attacked. Thankfully, today that fear is no longer present. It makes me proud, and I often have tears leaking out of my eyes when people approach me with kindness and respect. Veterans Day honors the sacrifice of those who lived and died throughout the generations for this country.

When I came back from war, I had problems attaching along with relational issues. I became a loner, isolated, and struggled with a sleep disorder and high levels of anxiety. I was a functional mess. Art helped me channel those struggles into something productive.  Art, for me, helps me go to safe places. Anxiety and trauma take away safety. It's disruptive and chaotic. Art is soothing, quiet, and relaxing. My photography is mostly nature based, so I feel grounded and in tune with the hum of the earth. Being calm to the forces of trauma helps me heal. Art literally helped me survive PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) by helping me refocus. I used my art to express emotions without words and utilized my creativity to find healing.

I am new to ArtLifting, but am honored to be part of an organization that elevates the homeless and disabled as productive human beings. To me, it exemplifies the oneness of humanity revealing we all have gifts that need to be seen and shared.

Learn more about Clyde here