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Social Artworking at Walter Reed

Categories: Highlights, Rehab and Recovery Fund, Support Our Troops

The Freedom Alliance Pasta and Paint Night, held this spring at Walter Reed National Military Medical Hospital, was a genuine crowd-pleaser, and accomplished art teacher Elizabeth Brunsman agreed to come again for the summertime to instruct our guests in painting.


This event, held in the USO Warrior and Family Center, was just as popular this time with 22 in attendance, including injured service members, caregivers, and family. Elizabeth brought her family as well; her mother, sister, and husband came to help out and mingle with the military families.

Some in the gathering had come to the last Paint Night, and others were first-timers. But no matter—Elizabeth is an expert in teaching anyone to turn out a beautiful piece and that’s what she did.

We began with a buffet of pizza, pasta, and eggplant parmesan. After indulging, the artists-in-training sat down to their own easel and palette of paints, while Elizabeth coached them through each step to complete a colorful seascape.

One of our guests was Theresa, who is living at Walter Reed while she receives medical treatment for a traumatic brain injury. She had never painted before, but she signed up to work with Elizabeth as soon as she saw our flyer, because her doctor had recommended art to complement her therapy.

“Social artworking,” as it’s called, is indeed a rewarding and remedial experience, for both the wounded service member and the people who care for them.

When the paintings were finished and revealed to the crowd, we concluded the evening with desserts and farewells … until next time!

Update: Elizabeth and Freedom Alliance soon after returned to the USO Warrior and Family Center at Walter Reed with Stuart the Minion—or rather a painting of him! Children and adults alike enjoyed a meal and an art class, painting their own Minion to take home. Pizza, paint, Minions, and military families … who could ask for a more fun Friday night?

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