Vets heal their minds through the 'Art of War'

KUSA - It's estimated that 20 in every 100 combat vets will suffer from post traumatic stress disorder. Many soldiers who have PTSD say it is a daily struggle trying to manage feelings like anger, rage and frustration.

Kurtis Bean is an Iraq veteran who says ever since he returned home from combat, he has worked hard to manage his PTSD.

"Every day I struggle with PTSD. I would self medicate with alcohol or not doing the right thing," Bean said.

Over the last few years, Bean says he has discovered a way to calm his mind and relax through, what he calls, an unconventional method.

"I've learned how to manage things through art. I can just pull out a canvas and paint. It frees you. It's totally opposite of the military in a lot of ways because you can do whatever you want. No restrictions, no rules," Bean said.

Instead of keeping his way of healing a secret, he decided to share it with other veterans by hosting art classes at "The Hope Tank," a local store in Denver.

Bean says his mission is to reach as many vets as possible to give them the opportunity to see if art helps them cope with their PTSD as well.

"It's my way of giving back. It has helped me so I'm just trying to help them," Bean said.

Matthew Cox has been attending Bean's classes for a few months. He says art wasn't something he thought would help him, but after attending a few classes he has noticed a change.

"It really calms me down, it really let's my mind flow with something positive instead of negative all the time. It gives me peace and quiet and when I work with these guys it just gives me laughter and fun," Cox said.

The classes offer vets hope, peace of mind and an escape from the unspeakable images of war which constantly plague their minds. Bean has shown these men and women, through free classes, that it is possible to escape in a productive way.

"There's no cure for PTSD, but this is one tool in your tool box. It's a way to get peace and escape. Whenever you feel angry or those feelings come up, you can pull out a canvas and relax," Bean said.

The Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design donates supplies for all of Bean's classes. He says each class is free of charge and is held at the Hope Tank every second Tuesday of the month. He also teaches at the Denver VA hospital every Thursday.

(KUSA-TV © 2014 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)


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