VA Caribbean Healthcare System
Recreational Therapy Provides Benefits to Veterans
From a therapeutic standpoint, creative expression has been a crucial tool for recreational therapists within the Community Living Center (CLC) at the SJ VA Medical Center. It allows for self-expression, socialization and increases self-esteem. The aim is to provide constructive outlets for residents to continue their rehabilitation journey through interventions that continue to promote skill development, a constructive use of leisure time and to boost self-confidence and esteem. It allows for expression without fear of judgment, critique or evaluation.
These types of arts and crafts activities are provided to the CLC residents on a continuous basis. “We have found that participants truly respond to this intervention and it allows us therapist to provide therapeutic interventions which they enjoy that allow us to evaluate their different social, physical and mental skills”, said Raquel Gonzalez Hodge, Supervisory Recreational Therapist, PM & R Service.
On May 6th, 2020, following COVID-19 prevention protocols, an Art Exhibit featuring local resident artist, Veteran Roberto Sanchez and coordinated by Mr. Calin Dover, CLC RTA took place at the CLC 2 from 1-3PM. Mr. Sanchez was able to display all the pieces he has been able to complete while at the CLC proving how creative projects can help each of us during these difficult times.
Roberto Sanchez is a long-time resident that has been able to find the therapeutic benefits of creative expression projects amid the isolation and restrictions implemented due to COVID restrictions. He has become a beacon of light amongst this storm for his peers and staff alike.
The veteran first started in the program doing woodcrafts in November of 2019 and painting in January of 2020 to alleviate his thoughts during treatment.
Mr. Sanchez expressed that painting makes him feel good, and all the compliments make him feel better. The program helped him creatively, mentally and makes him feel helpful to other people, because when the other residents see what he is doing it makes them participate. The message that he has for others is that “Veterans need love, a lot of people misjudge veterans and their needs all they want is to be loved”, said Sanchez.
“I am proud of this project, initiative and my team at the CLC. This is what keeps us going day after day, knowing that we have positively impacted the lives of those we are honored to serve, my heart is smiling”, said Raquel Gonzalez Hodge, Supervisory, Recreational Therapist.