Project Gives Veterans a Way to Heal through Art
The Combat Paper Project gives vets a way to heal by turning their fatigues into art. Video by fox47news.comvideo
Veterans have learned a new way to heal, and it involves turning their old uniforms into art.
Vets come together every Sunday at the Printmaking Center of New Jersey to sip coffee, share war stories, and make what they call combat paper: ripped up fatigues turned into artwork.
Many say this form of group therapy is what works best for them.
The Combat Paper program started in 2007, and it has reached hundreds of veterans across the country through a traveling program, and about 40 in New Jersey.
It's a three-step process. First is deconstruction: vets rip up their fatigues and symbolically deconstruct their past.
Next is reclamation: vets pound the fabric into a pulp and make the fatigues into paper. In the proces, they are reclaiming their experiences. They don't forget or suppress them.
Finally. it's communication: the paper becomes a platform for vets to talk about their experiences, through painting images and writing poetry.
The director of the program says the process for everyone is very different.
"They love their time in the military, and they want to be able to use the uniform as an expression of that," he says.
Combat Paper currently has groups in San Francisco and Ithaca, New York.
Down the road the program is looking to expand with new locations across the country.