Second lady attends art workshop for veterans battling PTSD in St. Petersburg

When second lady Karen Pence heard her husband was making a stop in Tampa, she says she came along because she wanted a first-hand look at the work being done inside the Morean Arts Center’s hot shop.

Thursday afternoon, Ms. Pence took part in the Art of Valor program, which teaches glass blowing to veterans dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder.

“People don’t understand art therapy. It is not arts and crafts. It is therapy,” Pence told veterans in the program.

Veteran Chris Stowe credits the workshops with lifting the fog of PTSD.

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“I end up not even worrying about anything when I’m here. It’s all focusing on the glass,” Stowe said.

Art therapy is a big part of Pence’s Healing With the Heart initiative and she’s well aware of Chris Stowe’s story.

“Everyone I’ve talked to, Chris, had stories similar to yours. Where they’ve said, 'Wow! This changed my life,'” Pence told Stowe during a roundtable discussion.

Second lady Karen Pence created a red, white, and blue glass flower during a class at the Morean Arts Center.

Chris hopes the national attention that comes with the second lady's visit will help Art of Valor spread awareness as they expand into other forms of creative art.

They're spreading the message that their workshop is so much more than a hobby.

“It’s vital,” Chris said. “I’ve had participants say it’s saved their lives.”

For more information about the Morean Arts Center's Art of Valor program, visit