BY MICHAEL CAHILL
Veterans Day festivities honor those who have bravely served United States
Rockland County got into the sprit of Veterans Day this week with two displays showcasing different aspects of veteran life.
In Garnerville, the King’s Daughter Library is hosting a display of photographs, documents, and other items, covering World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan. It can be view during regular library hours from now until November 30.
At Rockland County Community College, veteran shadow box art is on display in the Technology Center Atrium until Sunday.
The shadow box project is the brainchild of Barbra Smith, a Clinical Psychologist at the Hudson Valley Veterans Association, and her colleague Rosemarie Rogers LCAT.
Each box was created by a veteran, and is designed to depict the experience of being “in country”. Inside the four walls of the box are pictures, and relics of that soldier’s time at war. Some are collages, and others depict a scene or something more abstract. Looking at the projects, it is hard not to feel some deep appreciation for these men.
Smith worked on these projects with veterans as a way to treat Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Already in its second year, the recurring project seems to be having some success.
The most therapeutic part of the project is not so much the art itself, says Smith, but the appreciation for their service that the veterans who created the boxes receive from the public. Many of the veterans who created the boxes served in Vietnam. After the end of the Vietnam War, Smith says many of the returning veterans did not get the homecoming they deserved.
A blank book set up by the displays already contains pages and pages of comments from appreciative students and visitors, praising the service and sacrifices of these men.
The shadow boxes are the first of three phases to treat these men’s PTSD. In the second phase the veterans wrote essays about their experiences coming “back to the world”. Ultimately the third phase will take the men’s essays and use them to form the basis of a three-act play.
Others are recognizing the success of the project. The Hudson Valley VA, received a modest grant from the Department of Veterans Affairs in Washington D.C. to continue their creative work with treating PTSD.
The choice to display the works at RCC is also significant. RCC is considered to be a Veteran Friendly Campus, a certification given out each year G.I Jobs Magazine.
Speaking with the RCC Coordinator for Veterans Affairs, Jonathan Barnwell, his dedication to these veterans is obvious. Barnwell says he does all that he can for the returning veteran from Iraq and Afghanistan who choose to enroll at RCC.
Even a few of the older veterans from the Vietnam era have recently enrolled at RCC looking to learn new jobs skills through the VRAP Program. The groundbreaking program from the Obama administration, aims to give older veterans the opportunity to retrain and improve their job skills.
Currently RCC has 151 recently returned veterans enrolled for the fall semester, an increase from this time last year when 95 were enrolled. Barnwell describes what his office does as a “one stop advocacy center” for veterans. They come to talk and he helps them with their problems. Barnwell also helps them file for their G.I. Bill Benefits.
The shadow boxes will be on display until Sunday November 18 in the RCC Technology Center Atrium.
In other Veterans Day festivities, a special ceremony was held at the courthouse in New City where Edward J. Frank, a Vietnam Veteran from West Nyack, was named Rockland County Veteran of the Year. On Monday, a Veterans Day parade marched through downtown Suffern.