When we first met Lisa Peacock, our intention was to speak with her about the Vet Art Project. Though she was proud of her work with the project, which uses art therapy and creative mediums for veterans and their families, she had a request of us.
“If it’s okay – instead of focusing on the Vet Art Project,” the Registered Drama Therapist and Master of Arts holder said, “I would rather speak about Valor Home, where we work with veterans recovering from homelessness.”
Lisa explained that Valor Home, a program that includes transitional homes within six different Ohio counties, is very different from traditional programing for the homeless. Valor Home not only provides housing for the displaced veterans, but they also have job training, housing for those in outpatient treatment, and a unique homelessness rehabilitation program which includes expressive art therapy.
“The recovery is based on figuring out what are the life choices and experiences that led to their homelessness, and in some cases, chronic homelessness,” Lisa told us, of their psychosocial support plan format. “The program gives them the opportunity to examine the choices that they’ve made using expressive art therapy through writing, poetry, performance, music and using motivational interview techniques.”
“As an artist, I not only had the ability but responsibility to help veterans back to the community using art and artistic expression,” she explains. “I hoped to empower people already defining themselves as writers. I’m able to help vets and family members tell their story using different forms of communication safely.”
“They weren’t even aware what they were feeling,” she describes, of the people she helps through this artistic therapy. “Something wasn’t working right in their life the way it used to work after they served.”
She has a close tie with the military, which leaves her with an extra POV she uses in her work. “My father had a challenging relationship with his father because he served and my father could not serve because of medical restrictions,” she shared. “My husband is a veteran and created the therapeutic model I work with under at Valor Home.”
Is it challenging to live with a veteran who is perhaps still going through struggles of his own? “I love my husband and want to support him,” she says. “There are certain ways I can help him, and help myself, by being aware of what’s going on without managing it or taking care of it. You don’t have to do everything and no one is there in the partnership to only take care of the other person.”
Lisa says her struggles in doing this important work are worrying that civilians won’t understand what veterans are trying to convey. In turn, she feels perhaps this fear also prevents veterans from feeling they have a forum to share their stories.
“They are amazing teachers and I learn something new every day,” she passionately states, of veterans. “I wish everyone could learn from their wisdom.”
The Valor Home site lists the qualifications that need to be met for being admitted into one of their facilities, but they boast a success rate over 80 percent in placing veterans in permanent housing. They do not set a time limit on the veteran in living there, except for a two year cap at the Freedom House in Portage County. However, those in the Valor Home Therapeutic Program are placed in permanent housing as soon as they are done with the program and qualify.
“This is how I serve my community,” Lisa says, of her vast work with those who have served us. “It’s an honor and privilege to work with veterans and serve them.”