FORT BRAGG, N.C. - "I shouldn't be here, but for the grace of God, I'm here," said Spc. Randy Carter, Company A, Warrior Transition Battalion.

Carter was diagnosed with colon cancer during his second tour of duty in Iraq in 2007, he said. He lost 50 pounds in a month, weighing only 113 pounds by the time he was medically evacuated to Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C.

Through an Art from the Heart program being offered by the Fort Bragg/Pope Air Force American Red Cross, Carter and other wounded warriors are getting the opportunity to focus on art and potentially make it a second career after transitioning from the Army.

Carter has been working with internationally-known artist, Craig Bone to brush up on his art skills.
Bone, a former Rhodesian Light Infantry soldier, approached the ARC about starting the project.
"He (Bone) knew about the Wounded Warrior Program and thought it would be a great partnership," said Katherine Jones-Sperling, ARC senior station manager.

From August to Oct. 12, wounded servicemembers who are interested in art as a second career will work with Bone to create a piece of art and develop the back story for their work.

Through his publishing connections, Bone said the artists may have an opportunity to publish their work at the close of the project, but regardless the servicemembers will retain all rights to their artwork and back story.

All artwork supplies and operating costs are covered by the military hospital outreach program, so there is no out-of-pocket expense to the servicemembers, Jones-Sperling said.

Carter has been learning to produce artwork in pencil and will eventually progress to ink, water color and oil, he said.

"For me, art is more like a stress relief," he said. "Some people find it very relaxing - I do. It's a way for me to just take away stress. It makes me feel a lot better," said Carter, who worked alongside Bone Aug. 20, on a depiction of tree roots in Botswana.

The two attended the open house kick off for the Art from the Heart project at the ARC building, located at the corner of Macomb and Hamilton streets. The open house took place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Air Force Col. Charlie Dunn, of the Mission Support Group, also attended the event. Dunn said that Bone's talent and desire to help servicemembers touched him.

"It's just incredible," said Dunn. "How he relates to the Soldier; to the world in the positive way that he shows the military."

Teaching servicemembers to produce art is about teaching them "to create the scene," explained Bone. He said he has taught many people to paint, including a quadriplegic whom he taught to paint using her mouth.

The Art from the Heart program is very important to Bone, who said he owes a debt to America for allowing him and his Family into the country nearly five years ago. They emigrated from Zimbabwe during a period of civil unrest.

"I want to say thank you to America for allowing me in here because I came from Zimbabwe," Bone said. "Freedom and democracy doesn't really mean much until you've had it taken away from you and that's what happened to me in Zimbabwe."

Servicemembers who would like to participate in the project should have a genuine interest in art and would possibly like to pursue it as a career.

According to Jones-Sperling, Bone accommodates the wounded warrior's schedule, so the times of instruction are flexible. Instruction is given at the ARC building.

The open house event is one of four that the Fort Bragg/Pope AFB chapter holds yearly for the WTB, said Trisha Matthews, a station chairman who has been volunteering for more than three years.
ARC volunteers work at different places across the two installations, including Womack Army Medical Center, the animal clinic and various medical clinics, she said. Other support events include a Family Fun Day, held this past July, and an upcoming Holiday Mail for Heroes event in which a final exhibition of the wounded warriors artwork will be exhibited.

For more information about the Art from the Heart project, contact the American Red Cross at 396-1231.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16