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Giants Steps In Art Therapy: Discovering a Voice

Sandra Rodriguez is a US Air Force Veteran who served during the Vietnam Era (1974 - 1978). She also served in the US Navy Reserves. Sandy was deployed to Korea in 1976. She is a recent member of the Giant Steps program.  She says, “I never painted before joining the Art Therapy group. It has helped so much, I don’t know why I didn’t come sooner. I also find that painting helps me to use a different part of my brain since recovering from a stroke.” Sandra says her art allows her to connect to her spirituality. She often finds animal totems hidden in her artworks.

Giant Steps In Art Therapy: Instinct To Create

Tom Tribou, USMC, ‘03 ‐ ‘12, enjoys attending the Art of the Brave Art Therapy group within the Giant Steps program because, “…it’s good company, camaraderie ‐ I can finally relax in my environment, and get in flow with my art process.” He is a graphic artist, and also creates 3D artwork from nature or found objects—particularly objects formerly used for destruction such as: bullet casings and shattered glass. His process is about “…creating from the residue of destruction—and by doing so, embracing the human instinct to create, instead of the darker instinct to destroy.”

Giant Steps In Art Therapy: Escaping The Abyss

“I had never considered myself an artist before participating in art therapy at the VA. It was there that I discovered my creative abilities, and my resilience. Making art has pulled me out of the abyss of depression and trauma, and has allowed me to express what my mind was fighting to keep under cover. Fully immersing myself in the art process provides me with a way to deal with intense, sometimes conflicted, emotions about my military experience, and my life.”

Giant Steps In Art Therapy: Art of the Brave

The Giant Steps Program is an arts-driven outpatient mental health program for Veterans connected with VA Connecticut Healthcare. The mission of Giant Steps is to promote the wellness and recovery of Veterans by providing opportunities for creative expression, and connection with others so they can rediscover personal strengths, manage stress, build resilience, enhance self-empowerment and find meaning and pleasure in their lives.

Giant Steps In Art Therapy: Better About Myself

Forest (Robby) Herron is a U.S Navy Veteran who served from 1980-82.  He was diagnosed with a serious mental illness at the age of 19.  As a member of the Giant Steps program, Robby states, “This is like a family for me—I’m able to get out of my shell.  His artwork is often filled with colorful geometric shapes, and always has personal meaning. Sometimes it may reflect a recent event in his life, other times it alludes to the simple pleasures in life.

Giant Steps In Art Therapy: Window To Escape

Jerel Wenger, USN, ‘66 - ‘70 was diagnosed with MS in 1990. Despite his physical challenges, he enjoys creating meticulously designed mosaic pots in the Giant Steps program. Of Giant Steps Art Therapy he says, “It has provided me with a window to escape from the restrictions of my disabled state. It stimulates me both mentally and physically, and actually helps me to maintain some dexterity in my fingers. I look forward to attending each week for the connections and camaraderie.” 

Veterans Count at Yale

As a community, we appreciate the service our veterans have provided to our country. That is why Yale honors the services of our armed force staff, students and faculty through special programs and resources.

Take the time to learn more about the Yale Veterans Network and to identify your status and a veteran.

To provide your veteran status, follow these steps:

Yale Students for Veterans - Veterans Day Activities

Veterans Day Activities

November 11, 2016

Veteran Portrait Gallery:

9 AM – 4 PM

Woolsey Hall Rotunda

Visitors will have the opportunity to connect with Yale’s rich military past by reading the stories of six Yale veterans as they pass through the Woolsey Hall Rotunda. Enter and explore the lives of Yale veterans via photos and short biographies around the perimeter of the Rotunda.


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