Recently funding cuts have been proposed for the National Endowment for the Arts. Those cuts would negatively affect Veterans who are prescribed art therapy for PTSD or TBI.
Walter M. Greenhalgh, a Navy captain who is director of the National Intrepid Center of Excellence, which hosts the program at Walter Reed, said Veterans are often surprised by how much it helps them in "externalizing those inner demons."
Veterans enrolled in the art therapy program have all suffered a traumatic brain injury or post-traumatic stress disorder. Organizers say the monthlong program helps them cope with haunting memories, disabilities and the future.
Rusty Noesner, a former member of the Navy SEALs, was injured in Afghanistan. "You are going 100 miles per hour, and after serving you are slamming on the brakes," he said by telephone. "The artistic process gives you a pause to start thinking about how you should be living your life now."
The efforts to change minds on Capitol Hill have not persuaded some, though, who suggest the same kind of art therapy programs for the military should be provided by private nonprofit organizations. "N.E.A.'s involvement in programs for members of the military, by themselves, do not justify the agency's existence," said Romina Boccia, a fellow at the conservative Heritage Foundation.