An ancient proverb says, “He who has health has hope and he who has hope, has everything.”

For many of our Veterans arriving at our residential rehabilitation treatment programs, it is the hope in overcoming old scars, using new tools to make positive changes, and looking to the future that makes them successful.

One Veteran at the VA Central Iowa Health Care System, found hope through “rock stacking,” a meditative practice that requires mindfulness, patience, and physical effort to create balance.  When you ask this artist about his beautiful sculptures, he is quick to share his story, one with a history of trauma, mental health disorders, substance abuse, and homelessness.

Rock stacking therapeutic art

The Veteran chooses not to focus on those points, however. He prefers to remain anonymous, hoping the art that has helped him battle his addictions and start his path to recovery will speak for itself.  As a true artist, he has used almost every medium in therapy but turns to the practice of rock stacking to center himself and focus on today.

His sculptures are scattered throughout our campus and serve as a reminder for his fellow Veterans that balance, hope, and health are possible for all.

Rock stacking therapeutic art

VA Central Iowa Health Care System uses creative and recreation art therapy to complement traditional therapy options.    Whether it’s through “rock stacking” to provide peace, music therapy to give a Veteran their voice back, or equine therapy that provides connection to a Veteran experiencing PTSD, we strive to provide that opportunity for hope to all Veterans.

VA Central Iowa Health Care System is the proud host of next year’s National Veterans Creative Art Festival.  The Veterans and the art selected to participate in the showcase each have a similar story of hope and resilience, and we can’t wait to introduce Central Iowa to these amazing Veterans.

We hope that our resident artist will submit one of his creations in the local contest to be a candidate in the national showing, hosted here in 2018.

Author: Kristi Catrenich, Public Affairs Officer at the VA Central Iowa Health Care System



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Published on Nov. 30, 2017

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