Royal Thai army spouse views WTU artwork

| February 22, 2018 | 0 Comments

Leaders from U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii and the 25th Infantry Division pose for a photo at the Soldier and Family Assistance Center on Feb. 13, 2018. Mrs. Benjawan Sitthisat (front and center) saw firsthand where Gold Star Families meet and receive support. (Photo by Ramee Opperude, USAHC-Schofield Barracks)

Story and photos by
Ramee Opperude
U.S. Army Health Clinic-Schofield Barracks

SCHOFIELD BARRACKS — U.S. Army Health Clinic-Schofield Barracks hosted a visit welcoming Benjawan Sitthisat, spouse of the Royal Thai Armed Forces chief of staff, at the clinic, here, Feb. 13.

The visit began with an overview and was immediately followed with briefings and demonstrations from art therapy coordinators.

Many of the clinic’s art therapy community partners were in attendance, to include the Honolulu Museum of Art and departments within the Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation, U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii.
Soldiers enrolled in past classes met with Sitthisat and presented some of their artwork as they described the impact the instruction and courses have had on their recovery.

Col. Deydre Teyhen provides an example of Soldier art to visitors from the Royal Thai Armed Forces, USARPAC and the 25th Infantry Division on Feb. 13, 2018. Teyhen described the two distinct faces that are often created when Soldiers design masks during therapy. (Photo by Ramee Opperude, USAHC-Schofield Barracks)

Sitthisat left with a better understanding of the clinic’s art therapy programs and how they are used to help Soldiers and family beneficiaries.

“Soldiers in the Warrior Transition Unit (WTU) program greatly benefit from the Resiliency through Art program in many ways,” said Patti Honda, program manager, Warrior Transition Battalion, Tripler Army Medical Center. “Many WTU Soldiers suffer from what is often referred to as the ‘invisible wound.’ Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury (TBI) both affect many military personnel as a result of direct military events or non-military related events. These injuries are serious and very prevalent in our military communities; however, unlike an amputation, PTSD and TBI are often unrecognized.”

Dozens of subject matter experts and medical professionals described their areas of expertise and programs. Visitors from the Royal Thai Armed Forces, U.S. Army-Pacific and the 25th Infantry Division were escorted by Col. Deydre Teyhen and Command Sgt. Maj. Joel Thomas of USAHC-SB.

Lt. Cmdr. Eric Kebker, psychologist, USAHC-SB, was instrumental in the visit and shared his approach to partnerships and the possible impact of art therapy on Soldiers.

“Another way that we try to prevent stigma and allow our Soldiers the opportunity to practice the skills they have been developing in group is by taking them on a weekly outing,” said Kebker. “To accomplish this, we have partnered with community organizations that have been very eager to support our Soldiers through experiences that they have created just for them.

Mrs. Benjawan Sitthisat, spouse of the Royal Thai Armed Forces Chief of Staff, shares a laugh with Lt. Col. Evelyn Vento while discussing ballroom dancing on Feb. 13, 2018. Vento described how art therapy has been integrated into Army Medicine’s plan to support the use of board certified art therapists. (Photo by Ramee Opperude, USAHC-Schofield Barracks)

“Some of these partners include a Hawaii Heritage Center and a Buddhist temple. One of our first community partnerships was with the Honolulu Museum of Art, which offered our Soldiers art encounters,” he explained.

Sitthisat concluded her tour with a visit to the Soldier and Family Assistance Center (SFAC) where she heard about how the center equips and aids wounded, ill and injured Soldiers who are assigned or attached to Warrior Transition Units. SFAC services help these Soldiers make life-changing decisions as they transition back to duty or civilian life.

Senior leader engagements strengthen the U.S. and Royal Thai Armed Force’s strategic partnership and military-to-military relationship. They create mutual understanding and identify opportunities for the two countries to work together.

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