Voices of Veterans joint patrons, His Excellency, General the Honourable David Hurley AC DSC (Retd) and Her Excellency Mrs Linda Hurley.
The number of charities that have emerged in response to the spate of suicides within the veteran community is both alarming and heart-warming. Alarming in the requirement, but heart-warming in the number of individuals and organisations that have emerged to meet this crisis head on.
When Linda and I were approached with the request to support the Voices of Veterans Project we were curious as to the approach Voices of Veterans were taking and how they could add value to the work being done in addressing the suicide of veterans. What we found was an innovative approach to connecting our at-risk veteran community with support services. Art making at its heart is emotional expression. It allows art makers to convey emotions, experiences and views through literal, metaphoric, allegoric and symbolic representations. The power of a song, film, photograph or painting to move its audience is undisputed.
Voices of Veterans seeks to normalise the conversations around mental illness by creating artworks and sharing them to encourage discussion around the experience of living with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. It has been lived and created by artist and veteran, Mike Armstrong, with the help of his veteran community. The veterans and the art that represents their lived experience, is both powerful in honesty and vulnerability. The art provides an insight into the darkness of mental illness and the healing that may be found through effective treatment. The artworks are just the beginning. It is hoped that they are a catalyst for conversations that lead to the creation of arts-based veteran communities around Australia and encourage members to support their wellbeing by engaging with the program and clinical support.
Voices of Veterans is an invitation for everybody to join the conversation, help others and help themselves. It may be confronting, but normalising mental health will go a long way in supporting people in need and making our nation stronger. It is with hope for our veteran community that Linda and I proudly support Voices of Veterans.