Not all therapy has to be with words.

Recently, the District 8, American Legion Auxiliary received a $1,000 grant from the Community Foundation to continue a creative arts program that helps veterans create a non-threatening environment without the use of words as a form of therapy.

The therapy allows veterans to use art as a way to show feelings and emotions without having to find words to show it.

"Art therapy is a great therapeutic tool for veterans at Ft. Dodge," American Legion Post 47 President Paula Sellens said in a press release. "It enables the veterans to express themselves in non-verbal ways.

"People with Alzheimer's or dementia can benefit by participating in visual art experiences as well.

"Art therapy is gaining recognition as a healing exercise for service members with psychological healing concerns and traumatic brain injuries."

The art program takes place at Fort Dodge and according to Sellens, the Fort Dodge staff members have been very pleased with the results of the Legion Auxiliary Creative Arts program.

"There was a veteran who had never before participated in any activity," Sellens said. "He began to redevelop interpersonal skills by participating in the classes. He established social connections with a smile that was rarely seen.

"Staff members were so impressed that they called the veteran’s daughter to share his improvement with her.

"In a recent session, there were more veterans present than the usual 13–15.

"One participant made the statement that he was there for 'art therapy.' The activities director sent a very nice message that said, 'Residents are so happy with the outcome of their paintings.

'They are still taking about it. Thanks for all you do.'"

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