Community Building Art Works (CBAW) helps Veterans connect with their communities through free online art and writing workshops led by professional artists. CBAW connects Veterans, health care workers and others allowing them to share creative expression, mutual understanding and support.

The organization works to bring mixed groups of Veterans and civilians to engage in dialogue that uses art as a tool for rigorous thought.

Building resilience

Poetic Record: Resilience Workshop for Healthcare Workers, led by Laura Van Prooyen, author, educator and publisher, is a workshop blending poetry, community and the science of resilience. Each week, Van Prooyen selects a poem and together participants read, respond, write and can choose to share.

Research reveals a positive link between expressive writing and health. Writing can provide a private space for individuals to reinforce positive experiences, display gratitude, and explore and articulate painful truths.

During the pandemic, health care workers face not only the very real danger of COVID-19, but also an increased risk of primary and secondary trauma, moral injury, compassion fatigue and burnout.

“I look forward to this time out of my week to focus on myself and process what I experience with my patients and my own life,” a CBAW participant said.

Release through writing

Veteran Brett Bingham served for 21 years, including two deployments as a combat medic.

“Any Veteran of combat can tell you that there are things we see that we truly are not prepared for,” Bingham said. “My deployment in Iraq showed me that. I realized early on that I was going to need a release for the feelings and emotions that I was going through, so I could continue to do my job at the highest level. I found that release through journaling, writing my thoughts down as they occurred.”

When Bingham returned stateside, he was introduced to using poetry as a way to express and process what he was feeling. In writing workshops, he was exposed to writing thoughts in a way that brought a calmness to his emotions.

Bingham attends the weekly CBAW workshop for healthcare workers and another for Veterans.

“Writing and reading poetry has been a vehicle for release and has helped me cope when things get difficult,” he said. “I would highly recommend any Veteran or family member who has a difficulty expressing themselves verbally or difficulty focusing on daily tasks to join any of the workshops to help in the healing process.”

No experience necessary

CBAW’s workshops have reached thousands of service members, Veterans and civilian health care workers struggling with the social isolation and loss of connection that often accompanies moral injury and post-traumatic stress. CBAW creates virtual spaces that allow for participants to slow the mind, reflect on unthinkable circumstances, and use ordinary language in extraordinary ways.

Poetic Record: Resilience Workshop for Healthcare Workers meets every Tuesday at 7 p.m. ET via Zoom. The online workshop is free and available to register via Eventbrite.

For the full schedule of events and more information about CBAW, visit  https://communitybuildingartworks.org/.

Disclaimer: The sharing of any non-VA information does not constitute an endorsement of products or services on the part of VA.

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One Comment

  1. Ed Coburn November 24, 2021 at 8:41 pm - Reply

    I would like to please speak to someone about this workshop. I feel I may benefit from participating but I have some questions.

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