Sculpting classes hosted by VA help veterans with social and lif - KOAA.com | Continuous News | Colorado Springs and Pueblo

Sculpting classes hosted by VA help veterans with social and life skills

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It's no secret---many veterans suffer from PTSD, anxiety and depression. Unfortunately, some wait years before seeking help, but the VA is trying a different approach to reach out to veterans through art. 

You may ask yourself: How does art help veterans? 

"I find it to be therapeutic, mentally relaxing and it gives me an opportunity to focus on other tasks I need to do," Navy veteran Darold Williams said. 

He is one of several veterans participating in a sculpting class the VA started. 

The goal is to get veterans out of their house and into an environment where they can talk to professionals and socialize with other veterans. 

"It's more encouraging to go to an art class than to go to a social group and listen to a person at a wall," Sara El Hage with the Department of Veterans Affairs said. 

She oversees the program and says it helps veterans express their feelings and emotions in a unique way. 

"I have veterans every day tell me how much it has improved their life and how it keeps them active and social," she said. 

Williams agrees. 

"Sometimes I struggle to concentrate, focus and think," Williams said. "For some reason, art provides that opportunity for me."

At first, Williams admits he was skeptical. 

"I didn't think the program was going to work," he said. "I thought it was going to be a waste of time. I was extremely wrong."

Air Force veteran Jerry Halsor is the sculpting class instructor. 

"A few years back, instead of giving money, I decided that as a sculptor and veteran, maybe I could contribute in a different way," he said. "I do get satisfaction at the end of the day when a guy comes up and says I helped him with his PTSD.  I had one Army sergeant tell me he has never gone two hours without a cigarette. You get different reactions to the class." 

Halsor says you don't have to be a professional to join. His main lesson is teaching people to finish what they start and have fun while doing it. 

The VA plans to offer several different recreational therapy programs in 2018. Earlier in the year, the VA offered kayaking and hiking classes. 

The VA says these classes last for 4-6 weeks. 

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