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Thursday, 28 July 2016 13:07

Veteran With Post-Traumatic Stress Finds Coping Skills Through ‘Dot’ Art Army veteran Greg Mullen has created animal figures, Southwestern sun faces, vases, as well as a life-sized suit of armor and a coffee table with a "dot" art technique he develo

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When Army veteran Greg
Mullen developed symptoms of
post-traumatic stress disorder while
stationed in the Middle East during
the first Gulf War, his symptoms
from nonstop anti-missile blasts
were severe enough after a sixmonth
deployment for him to transition
out of his 12-year military
career.
The disorder later would
later become commonly known as
PTSD, a signature wound of the
Iraq and Afghanistan wars.
Mullen’s doctor told him he had a
personality disorder and prescribed
drug therapy.
But the medication did not
help his severe anxiety, panic and
migraines, Mullen said.
Mullen, a former material
control and accounting specialist
from SW Florida didn’t know
where to turn for help.
Self-Expression Through Art
With assistance provided
by a psychologist, Mullen realized
he had an aptitude for art. He
found himself doodling on paper
one day, making small circles
within circles, within more circles.
The more he repeated the
pattern, Mullen said, the less anxious
he became.
Little did Mullen know as
he doodled those patterns that his
life would dramatically change for
the better. Gradually, as he transitioned
from pencil and paper to
paint, overlaying a series of dots
onto objects, he felt the entrapment
of PTSD’s chains begin to fall
away.
“It gives me peace of mind
and calms me down,” Mullen said
of his art.
“It gives him a chance to
take a breath, when most people
might go into panic,” Mullen’s
husband, Edward, said. “He just
immerses himself in it. When
you're concentrating on creating
dots, you're not thinking about
much else.”
Objets D’ Dot Art
Edward began collecting
items made from a variety of materials
such as wood, ceramic and
metal from thrift stores, flea markets
and garage sales for his husband
to refinish and decorate with
lavishly colorful dot patterns.
With no project too small
or too large to try, a collection
began, born from what Mullen
calls “layered-dot artwork.”
Edward said his husband
does not plan out or use templates
when he creates his close-together
dot patterns. “When he paints the
dots, it just takes him where it
takes him,” he added.
Mullen has donated a
mother-and-child figure to a major
children’s charity and a model biplane
to a veteran service organization
-- both for auctions to raise
money for their causes.
Helping Vets Help Themselves
As his collection of art
grew, Mullen began showing his
wares at military installations from
the East Coast to Colorado, where
he is able to interact with other veterans
and show those who also suffer
from PTSD symptoms that an
alternative to medicine might exist
for them, too. He receives emails
from inspired veterans who found
coping skills through activities
such as yoga, meditation and art.
Seeing Mullen’s work helps other
veterans challenge themselves, Edward
said.
His husband’s art displays
at military bases “gets him out
there in front of other people who
need to hear his story from him,”
Edward said. “There are other veterans
who are going through the
same thing.”

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