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    Texas Guardsman works with community to promote resiliency through Art Therapy



    Story by Spc. JASON ARCHER 

    100th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

    GEORGETOWN, Texas - Lt. Col. Kenn White of the Texas Army National Guard’s 71st Troop Command will soon be helping veterans and those currently serving in the armed forces through a community-based resiliency program, Resilient Me, based in Georgetown.

    The newly chartered 501(c)3 charity is a program to help veterans through an expressive arts program.

    White places serving the community as a high priority in his life. He volunteers with 6 non-profit organizations, is a Rotary Club member and president of the National Guard Association of Texas and Make A Vet Sweat.

    “When I was in Iraq, I served under Maj. Gen. ‘Red’ Brown who always encouraged us to leave things better than when we got there,” White said. “[Resilient Me] is my effort to leave the military and make it a better place by improving the lives of this group of Soldiers and Airmen.”

    The program seeks to empower the participants through expressive art by providing hope, empowerment and community to soldiers.

    “People that have PTSD sometimes feel like there is no relief or hope. Our resiliency programs will provide that hope,” White said. “The community portion is two-fold: the group setting creates a strong sense of community with military members. We are involving the local community. We are excited that the Georgetown Art Center and Georgetown Library are partnering with Resilient Me in support of our initial expressive arts program.”

    Counselors will assist participants in creating plans to help overcome obstacles related to PTSD.

    “Art therapy is a different modality to help people cope,” said Capt. Griselda Onofre, Headquarters Company commander for the 71st Troop Command and licensed clinical therapist. “It can really help with people that are having difficulty speaking to therapists.”

    Onofre serves the Austin community as a therapist and works with underserved populations suffering from PTSD and depression.

    “Art therapy is a different modality to help people cope,” Onofre said. “It can really help with people that are having difficulty speaking to therapists.”

    She also said that the majority of information processed in the brain is visual. Using art therapy and other visual stimulation methods can help the brain process a traumatic event more effectively and better a person’s resiliency.

    White’s background is not in therapy, but he has studied art his whole life.
    Before working full-time for the National Guard, he worked as a commercial photographer for an in-house advertising agency and operated his own photography studio. On top of photography, he also plays drums in his spare time.

    “I come from an artistic family. My father was an aircraft mechanic in the Marines during WWII, but he also painted the cartoons on airplanes,” White said. “It was through my brother that I met a Vietnam veteran who was teaching Art at my local community college. I didn’t know it then, but he was doing art therapy.”

    Art therapy and programs, like Resilient Me, are gaining popularity as a method of treatment.

    “My goal is to educate the population about how expressive arts can serve as an alternative form of healing,” said Betsy Naylor, the therapist who will be facilitating the treatments for Resilient Me. “We’re encouraging participants to support each other, create community and to increase awareness about mental health issues.”

    Resilient Me is located in Williamson County, which according to White, has almost 50,000 veterans and is equidistant to Ft. Hood and Camp Mabry. White hopes the location can help support Active Duty soldiers, Guardsmen and veterans.

    The art created during sessions is supposed to help veterans explore their feelings. In similar programs, the artists may not have full control or mobility in their hands. Patients can still experience the benefits of participating in this program.

    Both White and Naylor emphasized there is not a standard level of technique to participate.

    “There are two types of art,” White said. “There is museum art and there is therapy art. This is therapy. It is not necessarily intended to hang in a gallery; it is intended to heal.”

    Naylor agrees, “If you are not an artist, you may be ahead of the game. Expressive arts can be powerful because it is creating art for yourself.”

    White says one of the long-term visions of the organization is to create a brick and mortar resiliency center in Georgetown that continues to support participants through events or provide space to work on art on their own. The resiliency center will host guest artists and other activities for veterans, service members and their families.



    Date Taken: 09.28.2018
    Date Posted: 10.02.2018 09:34
    Story ID: 294951
    Location: GEORGETOWN, TX, US 
    Hometown: AUSTIN, TX, US
    Hometown: GEORGETOWN, TX, US

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    Texas Guardsman works with community to promote resiliency through Art Therapy