Culver City Edition

Vice president’s wife visits veterans’ organization

LOS ANGELES — Karen Pence, the wife of Vice President Mike Pence, visited the headquarters of a West Los Angeles-based veterans organization Sept. 28, learning about its art therapy program.

Pence, accompanied by Hollyanne Milley, wife of the Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley, was briefed about services offered by New Directions for Veterans.

Two veterans in the art therapy program shared some of their artwork with Pence and Milley. After the meeting with the veterans, art therapist Tara Beach presented a case summary, which consisted of several pieces of artwork created by one of her clients who suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder.

Beach also provided other information about the art therapy program.

“New Directions for Veterans is making a difference with our veterans who are battling mental health issues as a result of their fight in the battlefields to protect our freedoms,” Pence said.

“Art therapy is a unique mental health treatment that gives our military service members and veterans the opportunity to heal. I applaud New Directions for Veterans for their dedication and commitment to improving lives.”

Art therapy is the initiative Pence has chosen to champion as second lady. According to the American Art Therapy Association, art therapy is an integrative mental health and human services profession that enriches the lives of individuals, families, and communities through active art-making, creative process, applied psychological theory, and human experience within a psychotherapeutic relationship.

Art therapy is facilitated by professional art therapists who are experts in human development, psychological, and counseling theories and techniques.

New Directions for Veterans was founded in 1992 and is based at the Veterans Administration grounds in West Los Angeles. It helps Los Angeles-area homeless veterans and veterans at risk for homelessness to effectively transform their lives.

“New Directions for Veterans offers one of the most comprehensive mental health programs for veterans in the United States,” said President and CEO Yvette Kelley, a retired U.S. Army colonel. “Our clinical staff has implemented an extensive range of mental health services including neurofeedback and somatic therapies — all tailored to meet the individual needs of our veterans.

“Art therapy has proven a beneficial component of our program, especially with the veteran population. It creates a safe environment where they can non-verbally release traumas, emotions and experiences that can often become obstacles in their recovery.”