For more photos, visit: https://bit.ly/3tojD9F
ESCONDIDO, Calif. (June 8, 2022) –After discovering a passion for art through a PTSD art therapy program at her local VA, U.S. Army veteran Rocio “Rosie” Villanueva yearned for a studio of her own.
Sharing a home with her husband and four kids left her little room from the daily distractions for her own space to create art, mainly with clay. Now, thanks to Hope For The Warriors and its Warrior’s Wish program she recently received a brand-new backyard art studio allowing her the opportunity to organize her materials and create art in her own space.
“The shed is amazing. It’s a new beginning. I never thought I’d be alive again. I feel like I’m good at something finally. I see myself there years from now. I see the future … I never did before,” said Villanueva.
The Warrior’s Wish program fulfills a desire for a better quality-of-life beyond recovery or supports a quest for life-gratifying endeavors for those who have sustained severe physical and psychological wounds in the line of duty.
Villanueva immigrated to the U.S. from Southern Mexico at 15 to live in her American father’s hometown in Escondido, California. She entered high school, learning English for the first time – three months later 9/11 happened. She was ready to enlist in the military then, but her parents wouldn’t allow her to enter early and kept encouraging her to complete high school and head to college. After graduating high school and one semester of college, she finally filled her urge to serve and enlisted in the U.S. Army in 2005. She was quickly deployed to Iraq in 2006 as a bridge engineer.
After spending three years in the Army, she spent another five in the Army Reserves. After experiencing military sexual trauma, TBI, PTSD and other injuries, Villanueva separated from the military.
“It’s a gift becoming an artist. My kids watched me doing art through therapy and are really proud of me. I’ve been able to connect to my own kids through art.
“There was a time I didn’t want to do anything anymore … I gave up. I love working with my hands … it’s a way I can express my feelings with hands,” says Villanueva.
Every few weeks, she and her kids take the hour and half trip to Baja, Mexico to share art projects with children at an orphanage, Rancho La Heromosa, and has found that her passion for art therapy is also making an impact on them as well.
“The kid’s feelings come out when they’re playing with clay. Working in art helps them. I connect with them because I understand how they’re feeling. It’s how I felt,” said Villanueva.
After each ceramic project, she carefully brings all of the clay pieces back to the U.S. to fire them for the children living at the orphanage. She hopes to add a kiln to her shed one day.
“I make sure to treat their pieces very carefully, they’re something special,” shares Villanueva.
Today, she’s back in college working on an associate degree in ceramics with a goal of teaching art to kids in the U.S.
“We at Hope For The Warriors know the life changing impact of art therapy and the energy and passion it brings to veterans,” said Robin Kelleher, co-founder and CEO of Hope For The Warriors. “We feel blessed for HOPE to be able to assist Rosie with her art studio so she can continue to thrive in her civilian life.”
To view Villanueva’s Instagram page devoted to her art, visit instagram.com/warriorsspirit.
Since 2006, Hope For The Warriors has provided over $1 million in grants, assisting with 226 wishes.
About Hope For The Warriors: Founded in 2006, Hope For The Warriors is a national nonprofit dedicated to restoring a sense of self, family and hope for post-9/11 veterans, service members and military families. Since its inception, Hope For The Warriors has served over 40,000 through a variety of support programs focused on health and wellness, sports and recreation and transition. One of the nonprofit’s first programs, Military Spouse and Caregiver Scholarships, has awarded 183 scholarships to caregivers and families of the fallen. For more information, visit hopeforthewarriors.org, Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.