Castle Rock Art Cooperative aims to help veterans

Plans call for free course for 10 county residents with PTSD

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Veterans in Douglas County might soon get some additional support as two Castle Rock organizations come together to launch an art program specifically for veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder.

The Castle Rock Artist Cooperative in partnership with the Douglas County Veterans Monument Foundation plans to launch a program allowing 10 Douglas County veterans to undergo a therapeutic art program for free.

Veterans Art Program will be a six-month course designed to help veterans pursue healing through painting and art instruction. Hobby Lobby in Castle Rock has donated class space, where the group will meet for three hours each week for 26 weeks.

Local artist Carol Hein is signed up to instruct the group. Hein left the corporate world in 2011 to pursue art. She's been featured in the 2016 Governor's Art Show, art galleries and received recognition in numerous art contests, according to her website.

The course will wrap up with an art show exhibiting the veterans' work, which the public is welcome to attend.

Castle Rock Artist Cooperative President Nick Lucey said they hope to launch the program in March and are now in the fundraising stage. The program cost is $600 for each student, or $6,000 total. The organizations are gathering donations now to ensure none of the veterans will pay to participate.

“One of our directors has experience with traumatic brain injury and helping veterans and we just thought this would be a nice way to parlay some help to local veterans,” Lucey said.

Jarrod Wildman, chairman of the Douglas County Veterans Monument Foundation, said partnering with the cooperative to support the art program was a natural fit for the foundation.

“We're just always looking for opportunities to reach veterans. Veterans are a unique group of people that are very proud and stubborn, so to speak. So, getting them the help they need and reaching them is a challenge,” Wildman said.

Wildman, who served in the U.S. Navy from 1994 to 1998, said the art classes will provide veterans with a relaxing and safe environment to come together in a structured way.

Every veteran with PTSD has individual needs and not all treatments work for everyone, he said. The art program aims to be one more way veterans can work through PTSD, when “the brain is locked up on a reoccurring trauma,” Wildman said.

“If you can distract the brain long enough and put them in a peaceful, happy place and trusting place, they are more open to receiving the treatment,” Wildman said.

For more information about the program or donating, visit castlerockartcoop.com.

“We hope that it helps ease their pain and gets them on the right track,” Lucey said, “and instills a love of art in them at the same time.”

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