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26 | Bulletin vol. 34 no. 1 A Marine bomb disposal technician I once treated for traumatic brain injury (TBI) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) recently shared his life story with a fellow Marine and writer. The story was published online and encapsulates the sometimes difficult, but hopeful journey we see in patients time and time again. At the center of the story, besides his military experience and its effects on his life since, is art therapy treatment and the veteran's continued use of the arts to help himself and others. The essay openly and vividly describes his experience during a group mask-making directive, as well as his mask's meaning: Melissa S. Walker, MA, ATR Lead Art Therapist, Creative Forces, National Endowment for the Arts Healing Arts Program Coordinator, National Intrepid Center of Excellence Walter Reed National Military Medical Center The views expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not reflect the official policy of the Department of Army/Navy/Air Force, Department of Defense, the National Endowment for the Arts, or the U.S. Government. The National Endowment for the Arts does not guarantee the accuracy or completeness of the information included in this material and is not responsible for any consequences of its use. "Within": Art Therapy as a Window into Military Service Member and Veteran States of Mind "'My brain shut off — like, I blacked out — and before I knew what I was doing, my hands just started working. I was disconnected from the moment and plugged into the darkest spots in my brain.'" (Worth Parker, 2020) [The Marine's] "…finished mask appears as a face with the left half stripped of skin — raw meat bloody and exposed. Bees crowd the eyes and mouth and emerge from the ragged edge of its torn flesh. The bright yellow and black insects represent a manifestation of the symptoms of PTSD, which [the Marine] likens to having a bee's nest in his chest. Sometimes the beekeeper inundates the bees with smoke, holding them to a dull buzz. Sometimes it's as if someone struck the nest with a stick, driving the bees into a stinging frenzy. On the half of the face still covered by skin, a tear emerges from a corner of the remaining eye, its iris the same color as [the Marine's] eyes. Two holes mar the smooth skin in the same places bullet fragments tore through his face. In [the Marine's] fugue state, the wire [the art therapist] provided amongst the mask materials appeared to him as command detonation wire for an improvised explosive device. Now that wire emerges from those paper mache avulsions, with their hanging flaps of skin painted to represent his own wounds. It is as if he could no longer contain the memories of the devices so central to his undoing and they now erupted from him." (Worth Parker, 2020) "Stripped" Photo credit: The National Intrepid Center of Excellence

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