An art exhibit can be many things to many people ...
different styles and tastes that will hopefully render an
artist a success. Success in this case is the courage
exhibited by Sgt. Neil Kurtys.
Mental illness is the
white elephant in the room that is difficult to talk about.
So instead of talking, for now, let’s at least look at it.
The art work in this story is Sgt. Kurtys who is
currently assigned to the Warrior Transition Battalion at
Fort Bragg, N.C. He suffers from a major depressive disorder
with psychotic features, which he explains simply as, “I
hear and see things that aren't real while also suffering
from depression.” Kurtys began participating in the art
program at the WTB as a way to help him show others what he
sees and hears in his head.
Art work created by U.S. Army SGT Neil Kurtys. (Photo courtesy U.S. Army SGT Neil Kurtys - January 2018)
“Art helps me in my recovery by giving me the ability to
communicate some of the images in my head that I would
otherwise not be capable of expressing with words,” Kurtys
said. He participated in an art exhibit organized by the
Adaptive Reconditioning Occupational Therapy team that
contained pieces created by Wounded Warriors during their
Time spent at this event actually helps
wounded warriors focus on the emotional, spiritual and
social aspects of their recovery. Recovery that requires
more than physical improvement, and in Kurtys’ case, the courage to say
out loud, “I suffer mentally.”
Kurtys, who is ironically a
behavioral health specialist and was most recently part of Joint
Special Operation Command, finds this part of adaptive recovery a
Kurtys’ commanders took the opportunity to put the
right soldier for the right reason into the WTB and by placing him
in the care of the WTB, they opened new doors for him. “The WTB has
been a true life saver. Given my condition things get rather hectic
in my head and if I were in any other unit I certainly wouldn't be
getting the assistance that I need.”
Although his military
career lasted just over four years, Sgt. Kurtys made the best of
those years. “I enlisted in 2013 as a Specialist and did everything
in my power to be the best Soldier I could be. I worked hard at
every assignment and was promoted to Sergeant in 2016.”
Kurtys is thankful for his Army life and even though it has come to
an end he is thankful the Army has the Warrior Care and Transition
Program to help him have a life afterward.
“I would love to
stay in the Army, but with my condition, I am transitioning out of
the military,” he said. “I plan to pick up where I left off as a
civilian. I've got a civilian job that is still waiting for me and I
plan to be a real family man and spend as much time with my wife and
children as I possibly can.”
This IS art… exhibiting courage.
By U.S. Army MaryTherese Griffin, Warrior Care and Transition
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