Meet Ronald, Papa Member

Ronald took up painting as a form of therapy after returning from the Vietnam War. Sharing his art and experiences with his Papa Pals has been healing.

Ronald, 78 years old, lives alone in his home in Clio, Michigan, which he converted to his art studio. “I surround myself with my art all day and night. It heals me.” 

Ron served in the Vietnam War as a door gunner on a ship. When he came back, he said veterans were shunned. “We all were messed up, but we did not have help. I had to figure out how to get therapy for myself. I didn’t realize how much I needed it until I started painting and felt relief from my pain. Back then, no one knew what PTSD was and because I did not want to use medication, my art became the only thing that helped me. I’ve been doing art since the late ‘80s so it has been a long-term process of healing. I learned to recover by myself through my art.” 

In talking about his experience using Papa, Ron says, “I switched to a new health plan and Papa called me. I told them about my situation and they set me up with virtual Papa Pals. And so for a full year, once a week, someone called me to talk. I got to meet so many new people around the country who call to see if I am doing alright. I was able to tell these people about my art and experiences. During the 30-minute calls, sometimes I got on video and showed the Papa Pals my art. Showing and talking about my art is healing and then seeing how receptive they were has helped me heal even more. I'm doing really well right now and not needing the calls from Papa, but it was a good idea at the time because it helped me especially before I encountered some major medical conditions. I like Papa's service because it's important for veterans to tell their stories to the younger generation.”