Wounded Warrior Art Exhibit Ends Successful Run at Pentagon

In May 2017, the Pentagon Patriotic Art Program opened the Wounded Warrior Healing Arts Exhibit to celebrate and honor wounded, ill and injured service members and veterans who enhanced their recovery and rehabilitation through healing arts. This month, the temporary exhibit will come down to make way for a collection of international photos by veterans.

The Wounded Warrior Healing Arts Exhibit, sponsored by the Office of the Secretary of Defense, Washington Headquarters Services, Executive Services Directorate, and managed by Office of the Secretary of Defense Graphics and Presentations Division, highlighted the growing value of healing arts in the Military Health System and demonstrated the innovative collaborations and partnerships across military and civilian domains that are empowering more service members and veterans to engage in meaningful healing arts opportunities.

Opened on April 13, 2017 with a dedication event featuring remarks from Vice Adm. Raquel Bono, director of the Defense Health Agency, the exhibit included 40 images of artwork contributed by service members and veterans representing all branches of the military. Barbara Wilson, then serving as director of Outreach for the Defense Health Agency’s warrior care portfolio, led the effort to secure artwork for the exhibit and organized the dedication event.

“The Wounded Warrior Art Exhibit was a labor of love spurred on by the spirit and determination we witness every day from wounded, ill and injured service members and their families,” Wilson said. “It was an opportunity to educate leaders and the public that healing is a journey that takes many paths and presents unique opportunities for those going through recovery.”

 

According to the Pentagon’s Curator of Historical Exhibits, Albert Jones, the exhibit received a significant, positive response.

“We were honored to sponsor the Wounded Warrior Exhibit as part of the Pentagon’s Office of Secretary of Defense Patriotic Art Exhibit Program,” Jones said. “The exhibit has been very effective and successful in representing DoD’s Wounded Warrior Programs’ purpose and mission, and served as an outstanding example of the Patriotic Art Program’s purpose: to honor those who serve and sacrifice in defense of our nation.”

Wilson said it was her honor to have been a part of such an undertaking. “I hope that everyone who had the opportunity to view the exhibit walked away with an understanding of the complexity of recovery and the healing power of art –for both the creator and the spectator,” she added.

Second Lady Karen Pence also visited the exhibit and met with some of the artists. During its nearly two-year run, the exhibit was one of the stops for official Pentagon guided tours, which officials estimate brings more than 106,000 visitors into the building annually. Due to its prime location, many of the approximately 26,000 military and civilian employees at the Pentagon passed the exhibit daily.

“It’s still pretty surreal, to see my work hung up in the Pentagon,” said U.S. Navy Hospital Corpsman Jared Lenahan when interviewed shortly after the exhibit’s dedication. Lenahan discovered photography as a means of recovery after suffering a catastrophic, 50-foot fall. “The fact that my work could be getting viewed here in the Pentagon, multiple times a day, that’s awesome.”

While the Wounded Warrior Healing Arts Exhibit will no longer be featured at the Pentagon, the important progress made through healing arts continues. The Department of Defense and Department of Veterans Affairs partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts, called Creative Forces, recently expanded to provide creative arts therapies at 11 military medical treatment facilities and established a telehealth program for patients in rural and remote areas. Creative Forces also provides increased community-based arts opportunities for military and veteran family populations around clinical sites.

Visit Warrior Care’s Flickr gallery for photos of the exhibit and visit https://www.arts.gov/national-initiatives/creative-forces for information about Creative Forces.