Open the Door Veterans Program
Background and testimonials:
After its tremendous success in Houston, the citywide Texan-French Alliance for the Arts public art program “Open the Door” is coming to San Antonio for a public and healing art veterans’ program. San Antonio was selected for the Open the Door Veterans’ pilot program due to its long history of veteran support as “Military City USA.” Each year, San Antonio hosts more than 130,000 students and their families for military training. Altogether, veterans represent over 10% of San Antonio’s population.
The door is a strong, universal symbol of transition and progression. Our veterans experience significant transitions as they return from combat operations, as they resume the role of parent and spouse following a prolonged absence, and as they leave military service to return to a civilian lifestyle. The Open the Door Veterans’ program uses art as a visual dialogue between veterans, local artists, and members of the community. Installing the doors in public spaces enables the creation of a supportive network for veterans and expands their dialogue throughout San Antonio and its communities. This citywide public art program provides a platform for veterans to express themselves and begin the healing process. Painted on one side of the doors are artistic interpretations of the experiences that the veterans want to share with their community, while the other side of the doors depicts the community’s visual responses to the veterans’ messages. These painted doors are the end product of a deliberate creative process, including therapeutic workshops, an exhibition documenting the veterans’ journey, and a public art installation that activates interaction between veterans and their community.
“Our pilot program had one mandate, one question to answer; can art provide healing to PTSD sufferers? Absolutely. There is not a single person in the program that hasn't been strongly affected by the experience, it positively and permanently affected the lives of everyone involved. - “ Cody Vance, San Antonio Open the Door pilot program manager, Air Force veteran and professional artist.
"I was honored to be asked to participate in the "Open Door Project" helping veterans with PTSD through this art project. These men and women have given so much for our country and have to struggle with this awful condition as a result of experiencing severe trauma or a life-threatening event. I strongly believe in the spiritual and restorative effects of the art making process and do believe that this creative activity gives these veterans a pathway to emotional healing and a sense of well being." –Bill Fitzgibbons; owner Bill Fitzgibbons LLC.
“The Open the Door project has been a wonderful experience for me. Not only am I given a chance to express the way that art and the creative process have helped me with managing my stress but it has also introduced me to a community of civilian and military artists and crafters that I would not have gotten to know otherwise. I appreciate the program and I look forward to incorporating into my life and business”. -Tony Fantasia, Owner of Fantasia Custom Designs, founder of Vet Craft, and Army Veteran
The desire of this program is to spread the knowledge that through creative activity, art can help the healing process. PTSD sufferers - military as well as non-military - and those who are affected by other behavioral issues need creative outlets to help cope with daily stressors.
There will be creative fun courtesy of Fantasia Custom Designs and the Southwest School of Art. The Post Auxillary will be providing food items and the cantina inside has drinks for sale.
Come view the doors create by this project collaboration, ask yourself what you think each one means or what feeling it relays, then hear the Veterans from each team give you their part.
And don't forget to join the other supporters of this pilot project by donating so that we can expand the program and knowledge that art heals!
Thank you to all who have given their time and donations!