GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Marines are supposed to be tough. Jessica Rambo's uncle Tommy always was.
And so was Rambo – tough enough to be a Marine herself. Ten years, active duty, and with the name Rambo, she had to be tough.
But a sexual assault while she was in the Corps combined by a car crash that almost killed her led to long-term problems.
“And then I just knew, like, all of those things that they were training me, as a leader, to watch out for my junior Marines, I was having those issues,” Rambo said. “I was suicidal that's how I ended up in the treatment facility. I was in the basement of the Pentagon, no windows, 12-on, 12-off. It was a hard duty to have as a regular active duty Marine but when you have physical and mental health issues, sticking you in the basement for long periods of time was not the best for me.”
She ended up with a opioid addiction but kicked that with the help of art therapy -- though she didn’t know it was therapy, at the time.
“For me, it’s not so much the art therapy portion -- you know, drawing what I'm feeling or anything like that -- but just the mindfulness of creating and getting lost in the paint and metal fabrication and all that is a way I have found therapeutic,” she said. “So, getting lost and thinking about my materials and how they work together kind of helps me escape all of the pressures of the outside world in a way that medication and other types of therapies haven't worked for me.”
But she took that knowledge and, as a graduate student now at UNC Greensboro, she is turning an old school bus into a travelling art therapy studio that she’ll use to help veterans anywhere.
“Some are in homeless shelters, some are in retirement homes, some are in the hospital and they can't come to take my classes, but I can bring my classes,” she said. “Hopefully, it will give them another tool in their tool box instead of drinking or drugs or getting into trouble. ”
See her “Painted Buffalo Travelling Studio” in this edition of the Buckley Report.