Young Missouri veteran finds healing and peace through art

Young Missouri veteran finds healing and peace through art
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Twenty-four-year-old Danielle Sillman served in Afghanistan for 12 months.

“They want you to be a lean mean fighting machine. I could be mean lean and mean. I could fight when i needed to, but i was nothing close to a machine.”

Days after her discharge, Sillman began having seizures. Two doctors told her she suffered from post traumatic stress disorder.

Nothing eased her pain.

“It was kind of getting to the point where I’m hurting real bad,” she said.

Until she began writing and painting with Compass Quest.

Founded by veterans Amy and Ted Donaldson, the group offers emotional support and artistic healing for veterans.

“It’s always amazing when you don’t really know somebody and you give them a opportunity to write something down that they feel from their heart, and then they read it to you,” said Ted. “You never really know what to expect. What came out of danielle was fascinating.”

It gave Sillman freedom.

“I didn’t have any set pattern of what I was going to do,” she said. “I was just going to write. It didn’t have to make sense.”

According to licensed clinical social worker Mindy Miller, art therapy offers a way for veterans, as well as others dealing with PTSD, a safe way to express themselves without having to use words.

“You can just produce those feelings with some kind of a project or in your painting.”

“It always seems that thoughts are jumping around everywhere,” said Sillman. “And when I write, it’s like something that I take out of my brain, and it’s no longer going around in my head. So the more I write, the more of it i’m taking out.”

Just picking up a pen or paintbrush has helped Sillman cope with PTSD and find peace.

More information on Compass Quest can be found here.