By Cpl. Kyra Pearl, III Armored Corps Public Affairs
November 18, 2022
FORT HOOD, Texas — Reflects of golden light shone out as a Soldier held her art piece close , a metallic poster board which she had decorated as a representation of her life's story.
“A journey of the heart could never be forgotten,” quoted 1st Lt. Cynthia Sears, Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, 607th Military Police Battalion, as she read off the title of her expressive art piece.
One poster board capturing 18 years of her journey up to this point, and one which showcased two very different sides of the military "coin". Only recently had Sears made the commitment to join the U.S. Army, before this chapter she was a military spouse herself.
During her husband’s service, he deployed three times before ultimately getting diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Sears, at this time a spouse, mother, and wife, experienced first hand how extensively her husband’s mental health impacted their entire family.
Years into their healing journey, their family realized they missed the military culture and sense of community. Sears felt a calling to utilize and give purpose to her experiences by starting her chaplaincy.
“I understand a lot of the things that people go through and have to deal with, because I’ve lived it.” Sears said.
The glimmering poster board rested against the table top, as Sears finished conveying her story and the next Soldier stepped forward to share. The group was participating in a form of therapy where they used a creative outlet to convey specific aspects of their life.
Expressive artwork wasn’t the only thing on the itinerary. Prior to ever touching the craft materials, attendees participated in meditative exercises before being asked to reflect on their life and choose one word which represented themselves. Some resonated with words such as “loyal”, “courage”, and “resiliency”; but Sears chose “perseverance”.
“I think the expressive arts exercise lends itself to a safe space for our service members to explore a non verbal language they may have not spoken since they were a child,” said the event’s host, Maj. Lisa Northway, III Armored Corps Garrison Chaplain.
The Band of Sisters spiritual readiness event was held to help Soldiers and veterans take ownership of their stories and understand the power in telling them.
When facilitated by a credentialed therapist such as the event’s special guest, Wendy Caldwell, the expressive art project has scientifically proven healing benefits from PTSD or other unhealed trauma.
“I think the evidence of a deep and positive impact was seen, heard and felt in multiple ways,” Northway said. “It was so wonderful to be celebrated and affirmed in that space.”