Skip to main content
Ormond Beach Observer Sunday, Apr. 17, 2016 3 years ago

Veterans find peace through art

Memorial Art Museum conducts a monthly outreach program.
by: Wayne Grant Real Estate Editor

Gregory Holmes, of Ormond Beach, was glad he was able to paint a picture of himself fishing, as his dog sat by his side. His dog died not long ago, and he was able to capture their favorite pastime.

Holmes was displaying his art April 14 at the Ormond Memorial Art Museum and Gardens along with other veterans who take part in the Veteran Affairs Wellness Recovery Program, also known as PRRC (psychological rehabilitation and recovery center), which helps veterans with serious mental health problems.

The art museum, 78 E. Granada Blvd., has had outreach classes at the Port Orange center since 2010, and this was the first year the veterans have displayed art at the museum.

Homes said creating art has been very calming for him. But for a long time, he said he had a hard time accepting praise.

“I didn’t even sign it,” he said.

Now he realizes his art is worthwhile, and it helped with his self-esteem.

“It has benefited me greatly,” he said. “It gives me a sense of pride and accomplishment. I feel good about my work and don’t have so much doubt.”

He said classes at the center, which include tai chi and music, have helped him mentally and physically. The veterans have access to social skills training, community integration, goal setting, peer support, etc.

“They make sure you grow and have a better mental health situation,” Holmes said.

As a Navy Corpsman in the waning years of the Vietnam War, Holmes worked at a hospital for veterans.

“I was in the burn unit,” he said. “A lot of them had permanent disability. I worked there until I couldn’t take it anymore.”

Taking it on the road

“My mother is 95 and she was so excited and happy to get some of my artwork. This has opened up the art world again for me.”

SUSAN BERGMAN, veteran who displayed art at the museum

Keri Leon, of Ormond Beach, a psychology technician at the center, said they started the art as something fun to do.

 “I saw the veterans had talent they didn’t even know they had,” she said. “The art that came out was incredible.”

Three years ago, they started to display their art at the center, and this year, had a show at Ormond Memorial Art Museum for the first time.

“We decided to take it out of the building so people can see it,” she said.

At the show, she asked the patrons to look around and see the feelings and the emotions in the art.

“It gets me out of a funk”

Also displaying art was Susan Bergman, of Daytona Beach. She had been in the Army Nurse Corps. in 1972 during the Vietnam War, but did not want to relate experiences.

“That’s all I have to day about that,” she said.

Bergman had been an artist much of her life but had given it up, mainly because of the expense of the materials.

Navy veteran Gregory Holmes said art has helped build his self-esteem.Photos by Wayne Grant

“This has given me a venue as an artist,” she said. “My mother is 95 and she was so excited and happy to get some of my artwork. This has opened up the art world again for me.”

She said she didn’t feel her art had value until she received the support at the center.

“It’s been wonderful to me,” she said

Chris Schriedel had art on display based on science, specifically a TV show he likes called, “How the Universe Works.”

“A woman from the art league said I’m a good artist,” he said. “It makes you feel good.”

Daniel Giacobbe, of Palm Coast, works as a peer support specialist at the center and also displayed some of his art.

“I know what painting does for me,” he said. “It gets me out of funk.”

He has found art helpful in opening up conversations with others at the center.

“It’s easier to talk to someone when they are relaxed and out of a clinic situation,” he said. “We’re just relaxed and talking.”

Keri Leon started the art classes at the Veterans Administration center.



Chris Schriedel bases much of his art on science.



Related Stories