Tuesday, March 28, 2017
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.
Tony Arnold is a Marine Corp Veteran. His artwork is highly influenced by his experience as a Vietnam Veteran. In 1967, after graduating high school, Tony joined the military and promptly served a tour in Vietnam. He was seriously injured while on patrol, then retired from the USMC, receiving a purple heart. Tony endured several years of hospitalization and many, many surgeries to recover from his physical wounds.
However, he shared, “…it took longer to recover from my invisible wounds,” and for many years after his service, he saw the world in black and white, keeping a metaphorical wall of protection / isolation around himself. He found it difficult to trust anyone and was unable to find beauty in the world anymore.
He rediscovered his artistic ability - and the beauty in life - when he began attending an art therapy group for Veterans called Art of the Brave in the Giant Steps Program at the VA in West Haven. Through his vivid, life-affirming, and often large-scale paintings, it is apparent he was able to tear down the wall of isolation and mistrust, rediscover his strengths, and find meaning in the world once again.
Laura Spinelli, MA, ATR, LPC
Director, Giant Steps Program
VA Connecticut HCS