Thank You for Your Service: What Veterans Want Civilians to Understand and Implications for Therapy

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Williams, Leslie
Master of Arts in Art Therapy
This single-subject research study of a United States military veteran included a multi-modal workshop and focus questions, visual art making, poetry composition, and interviews. The data collected from this one-day workshop produced themes that are relevant to mental health providers, particularly the civilian provider who serves the military in a culturally sensitive and competent manner. The interest in creating this study came from the researcher’s experience hearing veterans’ responses to the commonly offered phrase from civilians, “Thank you for your service.” Many said that though they receive it graciously, inside they hold thoughts such as, “You haven’t got a clue.” Thematic results indicated the participant’s interest in communication, connection, and understanding. Though the veteran’s verbal answers were thoughtful, they were enhanced and made emotionally more complex through the use of visual art making and poetry creation. Additional research was recommended.