Military News

NEA grant to fund art therapy for JBLM’s wounded warriors

Support from the National Endowment of the Arts will help the U.S. Army expand therapeutic arts programs for soldiers at Madigan Army Medical Center.

Madigan officials said last week that money from the NEA would allow them to hire a certified art therapist and music therapist for the Intrepid Spirit Center, where soldiers who have suffered head injuries will receive intensive outpatient therapy.

Construction crews broke ground on the center in October 2015, and it is expected to open next year.

The amount of the NEA allotment was not immediately available. The NEA said in a news release that Congress had appropriated a nearly $2 million budget increase for 2016 to expand such programs across the nation.

Madigan’s traumatic brain injury program already offers a variety of therapies aimed at the “body, mind and spirit,” including yoga and financial counseling for wounded soldiers, said Col. Beverly Scott, chief of the Neurology Service and Neuro-Ophthalmology staff at Madigan.

“This help from the NEA will expand our current program significantly,” Scott said.

She said a “large volume of soldiers” cycle through the program. Many of those soldiers are transitioning back to civilian life.

Art therapy has helped some soldiers deal with issues ranging from loss of fine motor skills to emotional challenges and chronic pain, Scott said.

“It’s striking how effective art therapy has proven to be,” she said. “Our service members love it. They find it liberating.”

Jane Chu is chairwoman of the NEA, which will use its budget increase to expand art therapy programs at 12 sites across the nation.

“Instead of conducting one- or two-day workshops, we knew that the impact could be deeper and more meaningful if service members could engage with the arts over a longer period of time,” Chu said in a news release.

“Post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury are notoriously complex conditions to treat.”

Adam Lynn: 253-597-8644, @TNTAdam