The first poem Army Veteran Erika Land composed was meant to be her farewell gift to the world before she committed suicide. Now she travels around the country to share the art that motivated her to keep on living.
Before 9/11, Erika joined the Army as a pharmacy technician. Her job was to dispense medications in the emergency department. At work, she experienced pain, sorrow, anger, anxiety, depression and helplessness. After leaving service, she believed the only way out from feeling those emotions was to take her life – until she found poetry.
VA’s Art Therapy Program allowed Land to express herself. She wrote about the trials and tribulations she experienced while being deployed to Iraq. But in Poetry, Land felt she could speak from the soul, to express to others on the same path that they, too, could find healing. “Poetry is the window into the soul and a reflection of life,” she says, in the podcast.
After service is when Land realized she wasn’t alone. As she found poetry, she found passion for life and began touring and making arrangements for theaters and venues to market her shows. On Borne the Battle, she talks about how her performances not only allowed her to heal, but how it enabled her to connect with others to answer the deep questions she never asked herself.
If you know anyone through PTSD or been thinking about Suicide, provide below is the HOTLINE Contact Information to help some live another day.
PTSD Hotline Phone Number
National Suicide Prevention Hotline Phone Number
#BtBattle Veteran of the Week:
- Suicide Prevention Month: Start the conversation with a fellow Veteran
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
- VA offers debt relief to Veterans impacted by natural disasters
- Cohen Veterans Network: Mental Health Care for Veteran and Military Families
Jabari Shakir is a podcast intern with VA’s Digital Media Engagement Team. He is a journalism undergraduate at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts.