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NEWS | March 30, 2023

The Final Product Isn’t Always the Art

By MaryTherese Griffin Army

Art isn’t perfection it’s expression. Teresa Kramer works with Soldiers who are wounded, ill or injured on a variety of adaptive reconditioning events including art classes.

“I hear a lot from the Soldiers, how is this going to help me? How is painting a picture going to improve my life? My stock answer is, ‘this is a great way to see what you can do.’ Sometimes it’s not the art at all, it’s the socialization and being able to mingle with fellow Soldiers,” says the Adaptive Reconditioning Specialist at Fort Drum’s Soldier Recovery Unit (SRU).

From paint mixing class to full on painting on canvas, there is something for everyone and again, think beyond the art. Spc. Mercedes Murphy who came to the Fort Drum SRU in June of 2022 says she’s creating more than a product.

“It’s fun to be around the other Soldiers and to have this moment that’s not about our injuries or what brought us to the SRU. We get to be in company that understands what we are going through.”

Like Murphy, Spc. Aniiyah Hilliard loves the art classes and more in the adaptive reconditioning (AR) program. “It’s the process. Painting is especially very therapeutic. For example, if everyone is to paint a house you can make that house your own, there is no limit to it. Adaptive Reconditioning is a distraction. It’s a lot of events that you’ll love. From sports to art, they’ve got you covered. I loved it from the moment I got to the SRU.”

Helping Soldiers adapt is something the Fort Drum SRU does by treating the whole Soldier, which Kramer believes is extremely important.

“In Adaptive Reconditioning we not only focus on the physical we focus on emotional trauma and social issues, as some Soldiers have a hard time dealing with their new normal. AR offers them a myriad of opportunities to get back into the world outside of the Army but also get back into their jobs in the Army. It helps bring back their confidence,” says Kramer.

A tiny little word like “try” trumps any experience or background in the art classes at Fort Drum. Kramer encourages curiosity around the art halls.

“They don’t have to have any art ability at all. It’s not about what they make in the art class, it’s what they are getting from trying. The final product isn’t always the art.”