Denver’s Curtis Bean is an Army veteran who’s finally found his footing in civilian life through art. He enlisted at age 17, served two tours in Iraq as a sniper, and returned home haunted by the memory of a roadside bomb explosion that killed four friends. When those past traumas interfered with his personal life, he enrolled in the Denver VA Medical Center’s program for PTSD, where, he told Kasey Cordell of 5280, “I realized how therapeutic art was for me.” He told Jeremy Hubbard of Fox 31 Denver, “It’s very relaxing, and it helps me get the things that I have in my head out on paper, and hopefully out of my head for good.”
Bean, now 28, is a fine arts student at the University of Colorado in Denver, and runs a program for veterans called the Art of War Project. He offers free art classes for veterans at Hope Tank in Denver, and helped the VA introduce a regular art therapy program, in which he teaches once a week. Bean funds all the art supplies himself through donations and sales of Art of War t-shirts and hats.
Stacey Carroll, a nurse in the Denver VA Medical Center’s PTSD program, told Cordell, “It’s Curtis’ way of paying it forward and he has mad a great impact. The connection he gets—it’s like no other.”