U.S. Army MWR

MWR Arts & Crafts Initiative Builds Resilience through Art             
By Ganesa Robinson, IMCOM Marketing Communications

 “There is no other place on post or in the area that provides what the Apache Art center provides for me.  It has been a blessing to be able to come to this facility.  For me it helps me to clear my mind and relaxes my body from PTSD effects. My anxiety stress levels are down since attending.  Also my functions of my hands that were injured in a blast in Iraq have recuperated due to the use of this facility.” – Excerpt from Apache Arts and Crafts Center “Resiliency through Arts” Survey, Fort Hood, TX

Resiliency Through Art

After over a decade of war, the Army continues to experience an increase in Soldiers returning from deployment with combat-related stress disorders.  With support from the Army's Comprehensive Soldier Fitness program and the American Art Therapy Association (AATA), U.S. Army Installation Management Command (IMCOM) addressed this issue by working with licensed art therapists to develop the “Resiliency through Art” train-the-trainer curriculum. 

Soldier works on pottery project
Vicenza Family and MWR Arts and Crafts Center with Michelle Sterkowics, Supervisory Arts Specialist and Spc. Kevin Taylor, Warrior Transiiton Unit during Resilency Through Art Class. Credit: Joyce Costella (USAREUR)

“The partnership with AATA tackles the ongoing question in the media of ‘what is the Army doing to better prepare their Soldiers upon returning from war?’” said Jean Neal, Program Manager, IMCOM, Family and MWR Programs. “We felt this initiative was important for the Army to provide an additional healing process for Soldiers and Families.” 

Art Program Puts Soldiers at Ease

The “Resiliency through Art” initiative supports the Army’s Comprehensive Soldier & Family Fitness program’s goals by providing Soldiers a calming, stress-free activity that they can enjoy on their own or with their Families. According to the AATA, families who participate in art activities together, often strengthen their relationships through shared enjoyment and the discovery of newstrengths. 

Since August 2012, fifty-five MWR Arts & Crafts managers and program partners were trained by AATA to facilitate “Resiliency through Art” activities Army-wide. The three-day training course was taught at selected garrison pilot sites. Currently, eight “Resiliency through Art” programs have been developed Army-wide with hundreds of Soldiers and their Families participating. 

Community Partnerships Can Pave the Way

Soldier paints dragon

Soldier participating in unit Adaptive Arts program in Apache Arts & Crafts Center. 

IMCOM will continue to encourage Arts & Crafts program managers to collaborate with community partners as a way to sustain and expand the garrison “Resiliency through Art” programs. The goal is for MWR to provide a relaxing, safe environment that fosters resiliency through a creative, unstructured environment. IMCOM will continue to work with garrison Arts & Crafts staff to increase awareness, solicit command support and provide follow-up training.

With a new generation of combat veterans returning from war, the Army is committed to supporting new alternatives to help Soldiers adjust to the transition from the combat environment to garrison life.  The skills gained from the program help Soldiers and their Families strengthen their relationships, better cope with adversity and become more resilient.

Are you interested in volunteering or participating? Find out more about the US Army Arts & Crafts Program 
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