By Annette P. Gomes, Army Warrior Care and Transition
ARLINGTON, Va. - The artist Vincent Van Gogh's quick and heavy utilization of paint, French post-Impressionist, Georges Pierre Seurat's pointillism and M.C. Escher's keen eye for mathematics. These are all artistic important creative minds who've left quite an impression on U.S. Army Capt. Israel Reyes.
"Each of these painters have a characteristic that I can identify with. Seurat was very technical with his creativity, Escher had an analytical mind and Van Gogh had a love of oils and dealt with attention deficit disorder. This is something I can definitely identify with," Reyes laughed.
Reyes began drawing as a child but says he never saw it as a career option.
I drew pictures to keep my mind busy. I was in a Fine Arts program throughout elementary and high school, but never took time to paint. I completed whatever project was due in class but never took art too seriously," Reyes said.
In 1999, Reyes put his art hobby on hold and began to think seriously about his future and decided to enlist in the Army. During his nearly 20 year career, Reyes held several positions including; dietitian, Chaplain's Assistant and Transportation Officer. However, after multiple injuries that occurred in combat, Reyes found himself assigned to the Warrior Transition Battalion, Fort Campbell, Kentucky, where he would rediscover his artistic talent.
"I've dealt with many traumatic events throughout my military career. Mental health self-care is important. During my stay there, I had the opportunity to have physical therapy for various injuries that have occurred in combat. Developing and using art skills is what I do for enjoyment, and it's a simple stress reliever. Reyes said.
Since Reyes was on a path to medically retire, he decided to enroll in the WTB's Career and Education Readiness program. Coincidentally, the program included a pathway into painting and artwork.
This would become a full circle moment for Reyes as is own artistic impressions began to gain attention. His acrylic art already lines the walls of the WTB and has recently been displayed in the memorial garden that surrounds the installation.
"I donated a large eagle panting to the Warrior Transition Battalion Headquarters. I was later asked to paint two murals for the memorial room. I have also donated about 15 other paintings to the Warrior Care Clinic at Blanchfield Army Community Hospital as well as the flowers, painted rocks and an eagle statue in front of the Warrior Transition Battalion building," Reyes said.
"I've been in the program 20 months and sometimes it's hard to motivate Soldiers but that hasn't been the case with Capt. Reyes," said Fort Campbell Alpha Company Commander, Capt. Tabatha Trice. "He exudes initiative and he finds ways to support this organization. His paintings are incredible, he's drawn so many for us here as well as the memorial garden, and it's just a selfless act. I couldn't ask for more and as we get ready to call him Mr. Reyes as he enters retirement, he's going to be missed," she explained.
Reyes will retire this summer and hopes his artistic contribution will encourage and motivate others to give back.
"Selfless service is not just one of the Army values that we exhibit during duty hours, or training, or even on deployment. We can demonstrate selfless service by doing the little things that perhaps will make a big impact," Reyes said. "If I set the example by spending a few dollars and getting my hands dirty with a little paint, I might just inspire someone to discover their own potential and hopefully they will share their gifts within their own community."