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'It makes you feel better': Art helps Milledgeville war veterans serve community again

45 art pieces by veterans are at the Georgia War Veterans Home for public display. Veterans say their art opens doors to the outside world to still leave an impact

MILLEDGEVILLE, Ga. — They've fought in wars, and made sacrifices to protect the country. Veterans do a lot to serve, and at the Georgia War Veterans Home in Milledgeville, they still do but in a different way.

“Oh beautiful, for spacious sky,” can be heard in a room filled with veterans.

They’ve traded in their weapons for paint brushes at the Georgia War Veterans nursing home.

“Being away from home is a change of pace,” Jimmie Reeze said. “Kind of reminds me of when I was in the military."

Reeze has lived at the home for two years and served in Vietnam for one. 

“I was 18 when I went in. Every second you were afraid you would die,” Reeze said.

Many like Reeze come to places like this.

“It's a nursing home, but we also offer, like, rehabilitative care,” Activities Director Michelle Flood said.

She says care includes anything from tai chi lessons to animal therapy and their art program. 

“A lot of residents here have lost certain abilities over time,” Flood said. “Some people have lost ability in their hands, even some, like, speaking abilities with some ailments that they’ve gotten. However, with art, you don't need to have perfect hand-eye coordination. You can do that at any point in your life."

Many have taken a stroke at it and now some of it is on public display. There are 45 pieces at the Allied Arts of Milledgeville Gallery. 

“It makes you feel better. It makes you feel like you're not just doing it to be doing it,” Reeze said.

Veterans did a lot for their country, but Reeze says when they enter nursing homes, they feel like they disappear. 

“Just burned out, falling apart. I'm still a human being,” Reeze said.

He says art opens doors for veterans to the outside world so they can still serve the community in some way. 

“They have a lot of life left in them,” Reeze said.

Reeze says he'll continue to paint and try hard for people to see. 

Flood says the art exhibit is on display at the Allied Arts of Milledgeville until July 21. They’re open from Monday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

She says they're planning to make the exhibit an annual event. 

If you'd like to volunteer and make art with their veterans, you can stop by on Tuesdays at 2 p.m. 

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