The Healing Power of Art

Over this veterans day weekend I watched so many ways in which our country respects the people who guard us, fight for us and sometimes die for us. My family decided to climb an eight story tower on the coast of NH that was used as an observation point for the 16-inch guns that guard Portsmouth, NH’s harbor. We have a long history of guarding this valuable harbor between Portland, ME and Boston, MA. Earlier forts used cannon balls and during WWII we used 16-inch guns hidden in concrete bunkers and observation towers that would triangulate the shells they fired. The tower gave my family a different view, literally and figuratively, on the way in which war was fought 70 years ago.

This different view includes treating our veterans when they come home from the awful atrocities, the hard realities of life at the front. The VA affairs tries very hard to make a difference in these lives, and so does the NEA. Recently, the budget proposal for funding the military was increased while the NEA was scheduled for elimination. Read the Quartz Media article below for why this would not help our veterans:

On May 23, US president Donald Trump revealed his government budget proposal for fiscal year 2018. The military initially appeared to be a clear winner in his financial calculus: The proposal would increase defense spending by $469 billion over the next decade and also augment funding for the Veterans Administration, including an additional $29 billion for the Choice program, which enables veterans to receive treatment from private doctors.


But it’s not quite that simple. In his proposal, Trump also seeks to defund the National Endowment for the Arts. At first glance, eradicating this cultural hub may seem to have little to do with the military—but giving soldiers access to the arts is one of the most effective ways we can help them both prepare and recover from the demands of their duty. In eliminating this agency, Trump would be doing a huge disservice to them and to the veterans he promised to support.


The NEA provides arts grants in every single Congressional district of the US, with 36% of grants going to underserved populations, including military veterans. Soldiers and veterans, like the rest of us, greatly benefit from this access, since data has shown that art makes us healthier, happier, smarter, and more socially engaged. Plus, the economic benefits are clear: Calculations by the RAND Corporation show that evidence-based arts treatments for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression could save the US as much as $1.7 billion in healthcare costs, or more than $1,000 per veteran (Quartz Media).

As we celebrate our veterans this weekend, let us consider how we want to repair their lives when they return from service. Let us embrace all the ways in which we can help them.

Dr. Robert A. Southworth, Jr.

Dr. Robert A. Southworth, Jr.

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