Friday, 27 October 2017 01:24

Celebrating Veterans Through Art: Overcoming PTSD

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Brand Parrish' charcoal sketch of a fellow Marine. Brand Parrish' charcoal sketch of a fellow Marine. Contributed photo.

ROCKINGHAM – On Nov. 11, 2017, veterans of all branches of the United States armed forces will be recognized. In doing so, it must not be forgotten the struggles a lot of them face each day of their lives.


Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a condition many veterans have developed due to a traumatic or terrifying event that has taken place in their lives while they were active in the military. It was first brought to the attention of the medical community by war veterans, with most being prone to PTSD.

It is a very serious condition which causes intense fear, helplessness, horror, hallucinations and can also cause physical problems as well. The symptoms may begin immediately or years after the traumatic incident. Certain things such as smells, sounds, nightmares and various situations can trigger flashbacks of the traumatic event. Because each person reacts differently to events in their lives, remedies vary from person to person.

And for Richmond County sheriff deputy Brandon Parrish, this is a reality he’s all too familiar with.

Parrish, a Marine veteran, has used his love for art to work through his PTSD. Parrish served in the Marines from 2003 to 2007, serving three combat tours in Iraq.

Parrish said his grandmother’s love for art was the encouragement in steering him toward an interest in art. Following in his grandmother’s steps, Parrish began drawing at an early age, and continues to do so to this day.

Motivated by the therapy it produced for veterans, Parrish decided to start art therapy for veterans a year ago.

“I’ve wanted to get into art therapy for a long time,” Parrish noted, who currently serves as the committee chairman for Celebrating Veterans and Their Art. “It is self-healing, and I choose artwork instead of relying on medications.”

Local veterans have found this organization to be a therapeutic way in relieving their PTSD. Parrish was recently contacted by Operation Enduring Warrior (OEW) and asked to contribute a drawing of a fallen or injured warrior for a silent auction. OEW is a group which helps veterans with mental and physical disabilities.

Parrish chose to donate his charcoal drawing of Corporal Todd Love. Love was serving in Afghanistan in 2010 when he was injured by an improvised explosive device (IED). Love completely lost both legs, as well as part of  his left arm. The drawing shows Love climbing the wall during a Spartan Race.

Local veterans will be coming together on November 11 at Arts Richmond located in downtown Rockingham to exhibit their artwork. The event is open to veteran artists in the surrounding area, as well as their spouses. They are encouraged to display any type of artwork they may have.

The artwork will be on display from 12 noon to 5 p.m., and is free to the public. Acoustic music will be provided by Roger Campbell and Chris Herrin from 1 to 3 p.m. The local VFW Auxiliary and the Arts Council are helping with showcasing the veteran’s artwork. All of these events will be incorporated into the Veteran’s Day Celebration which includes the parade at 3 p.m.

To learn more about Parrish’s artwork, visit his Facebook “Charcoal Inspirations By Brandon Parrish.”

Last modified on Friday, 27 October 2017 11:55