Painting past the effects of PTSD

COLUMBUS (WCMH) — The first few months after war are sometimes the most difficult for veterans. In fact, thousands are diagnosed with PTSD, or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, but don’t know how to treat it. And often, suffer in silence.

“I spent years where I’d stay in the house. Everything here is safe and I know where everything is here. Going out was a struggle,” said army veteran Shawn Augustson.

Augustson joined the army after the terror attacks on 9/11, and spent two years fighting in Iraq. Little did he know there would be another war to fight when he came home – a battle with PTSD.

“I was having a hard time expressing myself. Letting, you know, the doctors know what was going on.”

Augustson spent years in and out of the hospital, before he was diagnosed. But once doctors were able to pinpoint the problem, they brought in an art therapist to help with his post-war anxiety. And it did the trick.

“I felt like everything that I had been bottling up inside was, you know, like, finally able to come out. Then I just had a flood of paintings coming out of me. I was just, like, painting like five, six paintings a day!”

Paintings that Augustson described as Post-Traumatic Expression – putting all of the emotions he felt while fighting for our country onto a canvas. And that outward expression seems to be helping… Augustson has gone one full year without having to be hospitalized for PTSD. But every day for him is part of the journey.

“I don’t think I’m 100 percent healed,” said Augustson, “But I’m definitely in a better place than I was.”

Now, Augustson wants to use what he has learned to help other suffering veterans. He is currently speaking with several organizations to hopefully teach art classes.

“I see improvements in myself, you know, that have happened since doing this. And… You know… Just, I’m excited to see where it’s going to take me.”

More of Augustson’s artwork can be seen at: provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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