AMARILLO, Texas (KFDA) - Many veterans returning home from military situations find the transition back into civilian life difficult and need healthy ways to cope with their struggles.
A local veteran has found an award-winning way of fighting that battle.
Joe Vasquez is a local artist and photographer.
He's also a military veteran, and his art provides an avenue of therapy for dealing with his past experiences and time spent in a war zone
“Art is a medium to express how I feel. I can’t use a brush like I used to. So I use a computer, and my camera is my canvas, and my art is important because it’s therapeutic. It’s an expression of yourself. It’s a way to release stress sometimes,” said Joe Vasquez. “If you have a lot of problems, a lot of stressor issues sometimes just focusing on one piece of art, helps. You get it out there, and you can just problem solve it. It helps me take some of the time, and focus on just an image and not the negativity as well.”
Joe recently entered this photo in a nationwide veterans art contest and won first place.
He is out of 1700 entries in the National Veterans Creative Arts Festival in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Joe won first place.
“It’s the first time that I submitted any work in a major competition, and winning it was, it still hasn’t sunk in how big of a deal it was," said Vasquez. “So, I was astonished that we don’t have too many Texas Veterans that won many awards this year.”
Joe’s advice to other veterans with similar struggles.
“Do what you love. Whatever your medium is, just I’ve met a lot of sculptors and painters, do whatever you love. The image that I won with actually only got seven likes on social media, so don’t use that as a, as a way to judge your work, judge by how you feel about it, but winning an award as this helps. I’m proving to myself that I was putting out the artwork, and I felt that I should be putting out. It helped my self-esteem because I was very depressed up until I won with this work,” said Vasquez
Turning some negative experiences of the past into some positive images to share with others.
That my friends is some good news.