Recreation therapy & creative arts therapy for Veterans

The following guest post was submitted to VAntage Point by Dr. David W. Luce, a Viet Nam Veteran of the United States Navy, Board Certified Music Therapist since 1993.

February is Recreation Therapy Month, time to recognize the importance of Recreation Therapy and the Creative Arts Therapies (Art, Dance, Drama, and Music) in the rehabilitation and overall improvement of health and wellness for millions of Veterans nationwide.

We’ve been at this for 150 years. Recreation was established by VA in the Rehabilitation Medicine Service Office. The complexity and interdependence of each patient’s physiological, psychological and social needs were recognized and therapeutic recreation developed into a specialized, professional field.

Later, recreation was expanded to become a separate service within VA and the old image of diversionary “fun and games” changed to one of therapy.

The terms Recreation Therapy and Creative Arts Therapy (Art, Dance, Drama, and Music) identify these disciplines as evidenced-based approaches for clinical rehabilitation and treatment. The exceptional knowledge, skills, and abilities developed by the therapists in these disciplines provide them with a unique set of tools to provide a holistic, person-centered-care approach that incorporates Veterans’ interests, family, community, and lifestyle.

Recreation Therapy and Creative Arts Therapy services provided throughout the VA Health Care System include acute, inpatient and outpatient, as well as home-based programs or in community settings.

Along with improving quality of life, Recreation Therapists and Creative Arts Therapists help Veterans to enhance and maintain physical and cognitive abilities, engage in social communications and skill development, improve