Suzanne Williams, RN, LICSW

Vietnam Veteran/ Retreat Facilitator

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© 2019 Warriors Heart to Art

Images by Hamilton Studio

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About Warriors Heart to Art

Warriors Heart to Art began as a national non-profit organization that produces healing retreats for veterans suffering from PTSD.  In Spokane, our distinctive independent program encourages and aids personal truth-telling through creative story, visual arts, poetry, and music. 
 

In addition to helping individual vets in the Retreat, we also work to help our community understand PTSD better.  That goal focuses on a public gathering we call “The Welcome”.  The vets will emerge from the Retreat to tell their stories and share their art with the public, as part of the larger healing process.


We’ve been inspired by a similar project in Ashland, Oregon, which was recorded in an award-winning documentary called "The Welcome."

 

Warriors Heart to Art is not just for vets, but also for the larger community. Suicides by combat vets is a serious and shocking kind of trouble.  Let's get busy to help some Spokane vets and their families, and to better understand their needs. The end of damaging isolation needs us. They can't do it alone.

 

You can help by attending an event, making a donation or joining as a volunteer.

You can refer a vet by emailing retreat@warriorshearttoart.org or calling 509-991-5167. Thank you.

Testimonials From Veterans

WARRIOR HEART TO ART RETREAT NOVEMBER 2018

 

Harold Watters

 

I served in the Army from 1967-1970 and 1972-1991. During my service in Vietnam, I lost 7 members of my crew that I’d done all my training with. I was, after 6 months promoted to SGT and at the age of 18 in charge of these men that because they were drafted, weren’t promoted as fast. Within 4 days of our arrival I lost my first member. By the end of my tour in 1970 I had lost all of them. I know now that I suffer from survivors’ guilt and PTSD. I tried to return to my life before service and found I just didn’t fit. So, I joined the military and hid from my ghosts until 1991 when Desert Shield came about. This brought back all those memories I had stuffed.

After many years of inpatient stays at the VA, I found my way to the Veterans Outreach Center in Spokane, WA. It was highly suggested that I attend the Warriors Heart to Art Retreat.

 

I agreed to attend, yet the day I arrived I wanted to stay in my car and go home. I didn’t. I went in and got settled. I tried to hide in the circle that became my new family. They wouldn’t let any of us do that. We were encouraged to join in the discussions and given different art projects with no direction as to their outcome. Just express your feelings. Look into your heart and not your head. The longer I stayed, the longer I wanted it to last. But… the most gripping part was writing “OUR” song. Joe Jencks, a professional song writer, took down one-word thoughts of our life prior to military, during military, after military and our future. Within 24 hours he composed our first draft and by the end of the retreat we sang this song for the public.

 

With veterans of all ages, we all had something to add to the family that affected others.

 

My only thought about this retreat… why can’t more with PTSD attend? I encourage anyone that has the chance to attend to do that.

 

My life has changed, when I left Vietnam, I lost all faith in God or higher power. Since the retreat I know that there is something controlling my life and I just need to let it happen.