By Mr. Ramee Opperude (Regional Health Command Pacific)March 30, 2018
The visit began with an overview and was immediately followed by art therapy coordinators and some of the art therapy community partners from the Honolulu Museum of Art and departments within Morale, Welfare and Recreation
Soldiers enrolled in past IOP classes met with Sitthisat and presented some of their art work as they described the impact the instruction and courses have had on their recovery.
Sitthisat left with a better understanding of the clinics' art therapy programs and how they are used to help Soldiers and family beneficiaries.
"Soldiers in the Warrior Transition Unit (WTU) program greatly benefit from the Resiliency through Art program in many ways," said Ms. Patti Honda, Program Manager, Tripler Army Medical Center Warrior Transition Battalion. Many WTU soldiers suffer from what is often referred to as the "invisible wound". Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) both affect many military personnel as a result of direct military events or non-military related events. These injuries are serious and very prevalent in our military communities. However, unlike an amputation, PTSD and TBI are often unrecognized," she added.
Dozens of subject matter experts and medical professionals described their areas of expertise and programs as visitors from the Royal Thai Army, United States Army Pacific Command, and the 25th Infantry Division were escorted by Col. Deydre Teyhen and Command Sgt. Maj. Joel Thomas, USAHC-SB.
Lt. Cmdr. Eric Kebker, Psychologist, USAHC-SB, was instrumental in the visit and shared his approach to partnerships and the possible impact of art therapy on Soldiers.
"Another way that we try to prevent stigma, and allow our Soldiers the opportunity to practice the skills they have been developing in group is by taking them on a weekly outing", said Kebker. "To accomplish this, we have partnered with community organizations that have been very eager to support our Soldiers through experiences that they have created just for them. Some of these partners include a Hawaiian heritage center, and a Buddhist temple. One of our first community partnerships was with the Honolulu Museum of Art, which offered our soldiers art encounters," added Kebker.
Sitthisat concluded her tour with a visit to the Soldier and Family Assistance Center (SFAC) where she heard about how the center equips and aids wounded, ill, and injured Soldiers who are assigned or attached to Warrior Transition Units. SFAC services help these Soldiers make life-changing decisions as they transition back to duty or on to civilian life.
Senior leader engagements strengthen the U.S. and Royal Thai Army's strategic partnership and military-to-military relationship. They create mutual understanding and identify opportunities for the two countries to work together.