South Mississippi Strong: Teaching veterans to create art

South Mississippi Strong: Teaching veterans to create art

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - At the Armed Forces Retirement Home, one man is using art to open doors of imagination for veterans.

Milton Williams is the Art Director at AFRH. He uses art to help enrich the lives of residents.

Williams, an artist himself teaches classes at the home. While he shares his knowledge with these military veterans, he thinks he is the lucky one because this job gives him the chance to work with those who have served America.

"It's by the providence of the Lord that I've gotten to meet the men and women that serve our country," said Williams. "The last six years I've been here, it's been an awesome experience."

Most of these veterans never picked up a brush or worked with clay until they came to the home.

Williams admires them for taking the art class and embracing a new challenge at this stage in their lives.

"They're courageous. It took me years to learn how to paint. Some of them, a week, a month, a year and they're painting," he said. "They're discovering and inventing techniques."

Ray Eckert is a prime example of that.

He devised a technique he calls pours. He mixes paint colors and has created paintings that are truly unique. Eckert thinks it's important to have a hobby you enjoy when in retirement.

"There's no sense of what I'm going to do tomorrow or what time it is," said Eckert. "You're in another world while you're painting."

Clifford "Smitty" Smith makes regular visits to St. James Elementary School with his colorful wooden fish. He talks to the students and donates art to the school to help St. James raise money for projects.

"Young people are our future. It makes me feel good and young to be with the kids," Smith said.

Armed Forces Retirement Home Art Director Milton Williams is helping to make South Mississippi strong and living the dream.

"Who would have thought such a job existed. I can't call it work, it's fun. To share with other people, veterans especially, it's pretty neat." Williams said.

There is an art gallery at the retirement home where resident art is exhibited and sold.

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