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Art Helps Heal A Soldier's Combat Trauma

Sean Davis' book "The Wax Bullet War."

When Sean Davis graduated from Oregon’s Sweet Home High School in 1991 he wanted to see the world. He considered joining the Peace Corps, but with no plans for college he wasn't eligible. Unhappy with his grocery store job, Davis finally did what he’d determined not to do: He joined the Army.

For eight years Davis served as an infantryman and military policeman. He traveled the world relatively unscathed and left the Army in 1999. Back home he pursued an interest in painting and tried art school for a year before dropping out. 

Not sure what to do with his life, Davis was working on a highway transportation crew on September 11, 2001. The next day he walked into an Oregon National Guard recruiting office and re-enlisted. In 2003 his unit was sent to Iraq.

Four months into his tour Davis was injured by a car bomb that killed a close friend. He was sent back to the United States critically wounded. While recovering Davis fell into a self-destructive and isolating depression. After hitting rock bottom he began to paint again. Davis now says art saved his life.

“The combat I lived through is an echo that never goes away, and when I first came home that echo was so loud I could barely hear anything else. Art is what helped me through it.”

Davis is the author of "The Wax Bullet War: Chronicles of a Soldier & Artist." He spoke at Ravenna’s Third Place Books on August 6. Thanks to Anna Tatistcheff for this recording.

Year started with KUOW: 2006