Texas has the highest population of women veterans in the country and doing artistic work is one of the strategies some of them use to ease the transition to civilian life.
The Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center has hosted an exhibit this month showing some of their paintings.
Natalie Lopez, a San Antonio native, is the author of one of the pieces.
Actually her painting, which is titled “Forever unfit puzzle” and depicts a soldier in distress, was one of 10 that won a nationwide contest organized by the Veteran Artist Program and the VA's Center for Women Veterans.
"Painting helps me release stress, just like the gym for most people," Lopez, who was deployed in Afghanistan in 2007 and Iraq in 2008 and is now stationed in Abilene, told Houston Public Media.
Kayla Williams, director of the VA's Center for Women Veterans and a veteran herself, explains that one of the goals of the initiative is "to help male patients and VA providers recognize the service and experience of women veterans and help women veterans, when they enter a facility, see their own experiences reflected, so that they can feel more recognized and welcomed."
Lopez is in the process of being discharged due to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and says painting has been therapeutic in her journey to cope with the horrors of war.
"What I want to do is pursue my degree to become an art therapist because I find that painting is healing and I wanna be able to help the veterans," she explains regarding what she would like to do when she returns to civilian life.
The Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center has showcased Lopez's piece and the other nine winning submissions in March as part of the celebration of Women's History Month.