Back to Top Skip to main content

Pentagon displays art from recovering wounded warriors

Retired Air Force Staff Sgt. Greg Miller and his wife Heather stand in front of Miller’s three-dimensional art made with wood screws now on display as part of the 2017 Pentagon Patriotic Art Program: Wounded Warrior Healing Arts Exhibit. (Courtesy photo) Retired Air Force Staff Sgt. Greg Miller and his wife Heather stand in front of Miller’s three-dimensional art made with wood screws now on display as part of the 2017 Pentagon Patriotic Art Program: Wounded Warrior Healing Arts Exhibit. (Courtesy photo)

Recommended Content:

Mental Health Care | Mental Wellness

For retired Air Force Staff Sgt. Greg Miller, the hell of his time in Iraq still burns in his mind nearly 10 years later. Thanks to an alternative therapy tapping into his artistic side, he’s on the road to recovery.

In 2008, he was in Kirkuk as part of the Air Force civil engineers’ Prime Base Engineer Emergency Force, better known as Prime BEEF, a rapidly deployable, specialized unit designed to go into bare-bones bases near the front lines and set up working and living conditions for the troops there.

“It was a hot summer, and we got mortared a lot,” said Miller. “A car bomb went off at the gate, and I could hear everyone screaming. When I returned home, that’s when I became really became depressed and wanted to give up on life.”

The experience brought on demons that Miller still deals with to this day. But now, he’s getting better thanks to his involvement in art therapy.

“I went through a lot of inpatient programs, a lot of hospitalizations, a lot of medication,” said Miller. “But one of the things that helped me to heal was art. I can escape into my own little world where I don’t have a lot of distractions and can be at peace for that moment.”

Miller creates three-dimensional sculpture art with drywall screws, familiar territory for this carpenter. His work is among the 40 pieces now being displayed at the 2017 Pentagon Patriotic Art Program: Wounded Warrior Healing Arts Exhibit. Individuals from the U.S. Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, and Walter Reed National Military Medical Center’s National Intrepid Center of Excellence in Bethesda, Maryland, created the works, and photographs of the pieces hang in the Pentagon’s Apex 1 & 2 on the second floor through 2017. Miller also teaches other veterans about the benefits of art through the Air Force Wounded Warrior Program’s Art Resiliency Workshop. The Army and Navy wounded warrior programs also have their own art therapy programs, and information on resources is available through individual installations’ military treatment facilities.

Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Jared Lenahan poses in front of his photography display at the Wounded Warrior Healing Arts Exhibit at the Pentagon. After spending most of the past two and a half years unable to walk after a recreational rock climbing accident, Lenahan now has an external fixator on his leg which allows mobility. (Courtesy photo)Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Jared Lenahan poses in front of his photography display at the Wounded Warrior Healing Arts Exhibit at the Pentagon. After spending most of the past two and a half years unable to walk after a recreational rock climbing accident, Lenahan now has an external fixator on his leg which allows mobility. (Courtesy photo)

Another of those who benefited from art therapy has been Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Jared Lenahan, who uses photography to heal. About two and a half years ago the Navy corpsman fell more than 50 feet off a mountain while rock climbing recreationally, suffering massive injuries.

“In the hospital, you get into a routine of things — physical therapy, occupational therapy, many doctor’s appointments — and it becomes a little old,” said Lenahan, who suffered a moderate traumatic brain injury from the fall and has been severely mentally taxed by the multiple surgeries and time he hasn’t been able to walk during his recovery. “Art therapy helps take your mind off the whole process. It’s an escape.”

According to the Department of Defense, nearly 150,000 service members have been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder since 2000.More than 360,000 service members have been diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury during the same period. About 85 percent of military patients involved with the National Intrepid Center of Excellence’s Healing Arts Program said art therapy promotes their healing. “The art process has helped a lot,” said Lenahan.

Miller said his recovery is ongoing and still includes lows. He credited his wife Heather for the fact that he’s still here. “If it wasn’t for her, I’d be homeless or dead,” he said.

“I married the most laid-back person I’d ever met in my life, very rarely moved by any stressful situation,” she said of the man who now sports dreadlocks and a bandana. “But when he got back, the simplest things, like an extension cord not reaching an outlet, set him off. I wasn’t educated [on post-traumatic stress disorder].”

Heather knew her husband needed help and sought the medical and psychological treatments important to his healing. She got him traditional care, and she also sees the difference art therapy is making. He sees the difference, too, and encourages others to use this kind of therapy to help them heal.

“I want to incorporate art into healing,” said Miller. “If my art can inspire someone, that’s a plus.” 

You also may be interested in...

A pain in the brain may be a migraine

Article
11/15/2018
Migraines affect women more than men with many options for treatment.

Women affected three times more frequently than men

Recommended Content:

Mental Health Care | Women's Health

DHA IPM 18-019: Guidance for Service Implementation of Separation Mental Health Assessments

Policy

This Defense Health Agency-Interim Procedures Memorandum (DHA-IPM), based on the authority of References (a) through (c), and in accordance with the guidance of References (d) through (g): • Assigns responsibilities and provides instructions for implementing Reference (d), which requires an MHA for Service members prior to separation in accordance with References (e) through (g). • Is effective immediately; it will be incorporated into DHA-Procedural Instruction xxxx.xx, “Separation History and Physical Examination.” This DHA-IPM will expire effective 12 months from the date of issue.

Women and depression

Article
10/30/2018
Mental health technicians assigned to the 48th Medical Group Mental Health Flight converse in the hospital reception area at Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England. The Mental Health Flight is one of many resources available to assist with depression and other mental health concerns. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Shanice Williams-Jones)

1 in every 8 women develops clinical depression during her lifetime

Recommended Content:

Mental Wellness | Women's Health | Depression | Mental Health Care

Pilot Program on Investigational Treatment of Members of the Armed Forces for TBI and PTSD

Congressional Testimony
10/9/2018

HR 3304, NDAA for FY 2014, Sec. 704

Recommended Content:

Traumatic Brain Injury | Physical Disability | Mental Health Care | Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

What to Expect at Your First Appointment

Video
9/20/2018
What to Expect at Your First Appointment

You’ve reached out for help, you’ve found the right provider, now Kristin Gwin from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center shares what to expect at your first appointment.

Recommended Content:

Mental Health Care

Kristin Gwin, Walter Reed Social Worker Talks About Getting Help

Video
9/12/2018
Kristin Gwin, Walter Reed Social Worker Talks About Getting Help

Kristin Gwin, a Social Worker at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center understands that getting help can be an intimidating process. She offers advice on how to get started by letting a professional know you want help.

Recommended Content:

Mental Health Care | Suicide Prevention

Stopping bullying takes understanding, involvement

Article
9/7/2018
Children can experience social withdrawal, anxiety, and depression as a result of bullying. From the Stop Bullying campaign to Military OneSource, resources are available to help parents and their families identify and address bullying (U.S. Air Force graphic by Staff Sgt. Jamal D. Sutter)

Bullying can leave visible and invisible wounds and have lasting effects on children and teenagers. Signs of the behavior can vary, and bullying others and being bullied are not mutually exclusive, experts say.

Recommended Content:

Mental Wellness | Children's Health | Suicide Prevention

How sharing my PTSD struggles helped others—and me

Article
9/4/2018
Army Sgt. Jon Harmon lost both legs after stepping on an improvised explosive device while on a 2012 Afghanistan mission. Today he speaks to commands and veterans about his personal struggle with mental health and how he works to overcome it. (Photo by Kevin Fleming, U.S. Army Sustainment Command)

Army Sgt. Jon Harman 82nd Airborne Division, liaison officer at Walter Reed Military Medical Center

Recommended Content:

Mental Wellness | Mental Health Care | Suicide Prevention | Men's Health

Getting off tobacco road leads to renewed relief

Article
8/10/2018
Stopping smoking can be difficult, but healthy living is a daily effort. Take command of your health today. (U.S. Army graphic by Karin Martinez)

One service member’s struggle to become smoke-free

Recommended Content:

Preventive Health | Mental Wellness | Tobacco-Free Living

DHA PI 6490.01: BH Treatment and Outcomes Monitoring

Policy

This Defense Health Agency-Procedural Instruction (DHA-PI), based on the authority of References (a) and (b), and in accordance with the guidance of References (c) through (k): a. Establishes the Defense Health Agency’s (DHA) procedures for the collection and analysis of BH outcome data. b. Addresses how DoD will standardize BH outcome data collection to: assess variations in mental health and substance use care among in-garrison medical treatment facilities (MTFs) and clinics; assess the relationship of treatment protocols and practices to BH outcomes; and identify barriers to provider implementation of evidence-based clinical guidance approved by DoD. c. Designates the Army as the DoD lead Service for maintenance and sustainment of the Behavioral Health Data Portal (BHDP) in specialty care mental health and substance use clinics, referred to collectively as BH clinics, until BHDP functionality can be integrated with GENESIS or another electronic health record (EHR) system managed by DHA. d. Designates DHA Information Operations (J-6) as lead on transitioning BHDP functional requirements related to outcomes monitoring to future EHR data collection platforms and processes.

There is hope

Article
7/12/2018
Medically assisted treatment for opioid use can break the cycle of addiction.

More than 350,000 deaths are attributed to opioid overdoses nationwide since 1999

Recommended Content:

Mental Health Care | Substance Abuse | Addiction | Mental Wellness

Life without liquor

Article
6/29/2018
There are 2.5 million alcohol-related deaths worldwide each year, according to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence. (Courtesy photo)

One service member’s story of how he overcame a drinking problem

Recommended Content:

Mental Wellness | Substance Abuse

Going the distance runs in the family

Article
6/14/2018
Elisa Zwanenburg (left) and Al Richmond (right) engage in their favorite father-daughter activity, marathon running. (Courtesy photo by James Frank)

For this father/daughter team, running, and the Marine Corps principles that carry them, are in their blood

Recommended Content:

Mental Wellness | Physical Activity | Men's Health

Breaking down anxiety one fear at a time

Article
6/5/2018
Marine Staff Sgt. Andrew Gales participates in ‘battlefield’ acupuncture, also known as ‘ear acupuncture,’ at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, as a treatment for anxiety related to PTSD. (U.S. Navy photo courtesy Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kevin Cunningham)

Generalized anxiety, panic disorder, and anxiety related to PTSD are common disorders. In fact, an estimated 31 percent of U.S. adults experience anxiety at some point in their lives; one marine discusses his journey.

Recommended Content:

Mental Health Care | Preventive Health | Men's Health | Mental Wellness | Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

Assess your mental wellness during Mental Health Awareness Month

Article
5/25/2018
Similar to physical health, mental health requires regular care. Mental health is as critical as physical health to mission readiness. Therefore, it’s just as important to invest in your mental health as it is your physical health. (U.S. Air Force photo)

TRICARE provides mental health services for you and your family at all times

Recommended Content:

Mental Health Care | Mental Wellness | Men's Health | TRICARE Health Program
<< < 1 2 3 4 5  ... > >> 
Showing results 1 - 15 Page 1 of 6

DHA Address: 7700 Arlington Boulevard | Suite 5101 | Falls Church, VA | 22042-5101

Some documents are presented in Portable Document Format (PDF). A PDF reader is required for viewing: Download a PDF Reader or learn more about PDFs.