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The voices from our community of people touched by The Joel Fund



The benefits I gained from the Operation A.R.T. photography classes were on several levels.  As a long time amateur photographer, I got a complete refresher on photographic elements like exposure, focus, speed settings, depth of field and more.  The classes also helped me do a better job framing shots and considering the content of each picture.  The Photoshop class has enabled me to go back through nearly 50 years of shooting to fix mistakes from the past and restore old photos. The great unexpected benefit of taking these classes was interacting with other veterans.  I had just retired and moved and we didn’t know many people in town.  The other members of the classes were veterans just like me and we hit it off immediately.  I’ve gained some very solid friendships, which I consider a gift beyond a value I can put into words.




I learned about Operation A.R.T. classes from the Recreational Therapy Department at the Durham VA.  I started taking classes in the fall of 2017 because I suffer from depression and PTSD.  However, this past year has been a struggle for me and I found myself feeling isolated and not enjoying life.  I am an artist, but was finding it difficult to get motivated.  I was also looking for an activity for my daughter and I to bond over and get out of the house.  These classes not only motivate and inspire me to do something positive, but they are good therapy.  Going to these art classes connects me with others who are seeking a better quality of life for themselves and their families.  Since I started taking Operation A.R.T. classes, I have found hope, peace, confidence, accomplishment, a sense of direction, and camaraderie with veterans.  Art is very therapeutic and gives you a break from all the worries of everyday life.




The NC Veterans Coffees are very important for veterans to attend.  The amount of information being shared is nothing short of remarkable.  It has helped us understand the needs of others, which in turn has helped me with my needs from others.  These coffees give us veterans the opportunity to be part of a voice in the community and to those who are willing to listen and lend a helping hand.  Coming to these coffee events promises a wealth of information that one can take and use for their benefit to sustain as a veteran in a civilian life.  It is also a time to come together so that you can express your concerns and provide information to others that has helped you over the years.  Come and share with a community of civilians and fellow veterans that are working together to move forward in life.