The Tulsa Glassblowing School is offering a free six-week long class to veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder. The school, which was established in 2007, accepts students of all skill levels ranging from novice to advanced. Only one other glass-blowing school in the country offers free classes to veterans.
One student, Justin Schultz, described the difficulties of living with PTSD: “The thing about PTSD is there’s no medication that you can take for that, and it’s actually one of the few disorders that gets worse in time and doesn’t actually get better.”
PTSD is a psychological disorder that a patient develops after experiencing or witnessing a life-threatening event. Common causes of PTSD include natural disasters, sexual assault and military combat. The condition can last for years and is notoriously difficult to treat.
Schultz was in the Air Force for ten years and served multiple tours of duty overseas. He has struggled with adjusting to civilian life ever since he left the Air Force. Glassblowing provides him with a release from the stress caused by his condition.
Another student, Matthew Engelbach, formerly of the Marine Corps, has compared glassblowing to meditation. He commented, “You’ve forgotten about everything else that’s going on around you.” He attends the class twice a week and claims it relieves his anxiety.
The veterans are drawn by both the potential danger inherent in working with hot glass and the opportunity to create something beautiful.
The school will exhibit its students’ efforts in a veterans’ art show on May 25. Visitors may buy some of the glass, and the proceeds will go to funding the school’s veterans program.