Veterans compete in ArtPrize, inspire others through hard times

Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Two Army veterans, who live in Breton Woods Senior Community, showcased their passions by competing in ArtPrize this year. They say this outlet has helped them in more ways than one.

“I realize what a gift it is for many people, those that are suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrome find a great release and that I think this is pretty wonderful as well,” said Dewey Heetderks, who served in the U.S. Army from 1963 to 1965.

“I think the purpose of doing this was to try and inspire other veterans to get involved in the art of some other type of exercise that would take their mind off some of the problems that they have,” said George Doornbos, who served in the U.S. Army from 1953 to 1955.

Doornbos and Heetderks say they still feel the effects of the war today.

“I am pleased to be a part of that story about getting release from all the stress of our lives today,” said Heetderks.

The two competed in ArtPrize this year for the first time. Doornbos’ piece shows a soldier kneeling at the grave of a fellow comrade.

“I was moved by the number of people who have given their lives so that we can have the freedom that we enjoy today,” said Doornbos.

Heetderks constructed a wood-turning piece made from maple.

“I find it just more than fulfilling, it’s a lot of fun,” said Heetderks.

The men’s pieces were showcased in Veteran’s Memorial Park in downtown Grand Rapids. The venue put a spotlight on veterans’ struggle with homelessness, military sexual trauma, and suicide.

These two hope others will see their work and be motivated to create their own.

“Some of them have claimed art as a great resource and it is,” said Heetderks.

“It’s been a pleasure to be a part of this and I think we all hope and pray that maybe some other veterans will be inspired by this,” said Doornbos.

You can read more about Doornbos’ and Heetderks’ pieces online. 

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