ARLINGTON, Va. - An art exhibit can be many things to many people -- different styles and tastes that will hopefully render an artist a success. Success in this case is the courage exhibited by Sgt. Neil Kurtys.
Mental illness is the white elephant in the room that is difficult to talk about. So instead of talking, for now, let's at least look at it.
The art work in this story is Sgt. Kurtys who is currently assigned to the Warrior Transition Battalion at Fort Bragg, N.C. He suffers from a major depressive disorder with psychotic features, which he explains simply as, 'I hear and see things that aren't real while also suffering from depression.' Kurtys began participating in the art program at the WTB as a way to help him show others what he sees and hears in his head.
'Art helps me in my recovery by giving me the ability to communicate some of the images in my head that I would otherwise not be capable of expressing with words,' Kurtys said. He participated in an art exhibit organized by the Adaptive Reconditioning Occupational Therapy team that contained pieces created by Wounded Warriors during their recovery.
Time spent at this event actually helps wounded warriors focus on the emotional, spiritual and social aspects of their recovery. Recovery that requires more than physical improvement, and in Kurtys' case, the courage to say out loud, 'I suffer mentally.'
Kurtys, who is ironically a behavioral health specialist and was most recently part of Joint Special Operation Command, finds this part of adaptive recovery a Godsend.
Kurtys' commanders took the opportunity to put the right soldier for the right reason into the WTB and by placing him in the care of the WTB, they opened new doors for him. 'The WTB has been a true life saver. Given my condition things get rather hectic in my head and if I were in any other unit I certainly wouldn't be getting the assistance that I need.'
Although his military career lasted just over four years, Sgt. Kurtys made the best of those years. 'I enlisted in 2013 as a Specialist and did everything in my power to be the best Soldier I could be. I worked hard at every assignment and was promoted to Sergeant in 2016.'
Sgt. Kurtys is thankful for his Army life and even though it has come to an end he is thankful the Army has the Warrior Care and Transition Program to help him have a life afterward.
'I would love to stay in the Army, but with my condition, I am transitioning out of the military,' he said. 'I plan to pick up where I left off as a civilian. I've got a civilian job that is still waiting for me and I plan to be a real family man and spend as much time with my wife and children as I possibly can.'
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