Art Berube is a U.S. Army combat Veteran who served in Vietnam. Like many Veterans, upon returning to civilian life, Art realized that his military experience changed the way he viewed the world.
Art says that the art therapy group has helped him to process memories through images, then verbally and emotionally. “It has been very healing. I feel like I realized the war (within) is finally over and it’s ok to have fun and laugh again. Expressing myself and processing some of my experiences through art has been extremely beneficial. I can now feel positive emotions, and let in the beauty of the world, in the moment, without waiting for that ‘bad thing’ to happen. Life doesn’t always have to be like that.”
“Growing up I remember Uncle Sam as the iconic image of American bravery. During the Vietnam era it became a symbol of resentment and cynicism. This artwork reflects my Vietnam experience and how it changed my life. Upon returning, my world changed. After entering the art therapy program at the VA, I began to get my life back. The paint tubes symbolize my bottled up memories and experiences. Once I decided to take the ‘Giant Step’ to express myself through art, I felt a releasing of those bottled up feelings and memories. Creating art has helped me feel more relaxed and has helped me to move forward in my life.”
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.
Laura Spinelli, MA, ATR, LPC
Director, Giant Steps Program
VA Connecticut HCS