CU Denver student uses ‘Art of War’ to treat PTSD

DENVER — When you hear about the art of war, watercolors probably aren’t the first things that come to mind. But for Curtis Bean, there’s no better outlet for conflict than a canvas and some paint.

“I saw a need for alternative therapies for veterans suffering from PTSD,” Bean told Colorado’s Own Channel 2.

Bean is a former Army sniper who served in Iraq, came home, and battled the demons of post-traumatic stress disorder after an IED (improvised explosive device) killed four men in his unit. But now he channels his anxiety and anger through art.

“Very healthy, very relaxing, and helps me get the things in my head on paper and hopefully out of my head for good,” Bean said.

Now, Bean is passing along his remedy to other veterans.

A full-time Fine Arts student at CU Denver, he started what he calls the “Art of War Project.”  He’s helping fellow service-members realize the therapeutic qualities of art at monthly classes, held at a place called Hope Tank on South Broadway in Denver.

For these guys, it’s definitely something different.

“We didn’t have art.  We didn’t have much of anything unfortunately,” said Ted Engelmann, a Vietnam veteran who is inspired by Bean’s idea.

“This is helpful. Especially when we have the highest rate of suicide going on in our soldiers and veterans as well. Hopefully this will be seen by others and picked up and realized there’s a lot you can do here,” Engelmann said.

It may not be for everyone. But it’s another way to cope. And for Bean and the other veterans, it seems to help.

“They’re all using this art to benefit from what they’ve seen, what they’ve done and they’re using it to move on to a healthy and happy lifestyle,” Bean said.

Follow the link to learn more about the Art of War project, and how to get involved.

Follow the link to learn more about veteran programs at CU Denver.