Creative arts have been a form of expression for centuries. The American Art Therapy Association notes that art, music and writing can improve cognitive function, increase self-esteem and enhance social skills.

During their deployment to Air Force Mortuary Affairs Operations, Airmen often use creative outlets as a tool for resiliency. Staff Sgt. Jayaira Ghrim-Harvey, AFMAO uniforms non-commissioned officer in charge, has expressed herself through poetry since long before her arrival to Dover Air Force Base, Delaware.

“I’ve been writing since I was 13. It’s been a great expressive way for me to get out some of the trauma and the things that I’ve been through,” said Ghrim-Harvey, who is deployed to AFMAO from the 910th Force Support Squadron, Youngstown Air Reserve Station, Ohio.

Initially, her writing was not always structured, but rather just a way to cope with things in her young life, she said.

“I started just writing as a free outlet. It wasn’t poetic at first, it was just like, ‘I need to get this off my chest,’” said Ghrim-Harvey. “But then as I started to write more, I noticed that it was becoming poetic and I thought, ‘Hmmm, I might have something here.’ So I started to write poetry, so it became a platform and an outlet for me to heal.”

Ghrim-Harvey also performs original spoken word pieces and says that even in her adult life, writing is a tool for her to heal through past trauma and tough situations. Her work was noticed by her peers and leadership at AFMAO, and she was inspired to submit for an upcoming writing project called “The Women We Watched,” written by women in the Air Force about their mentors and inspirations.

“I chose to write about my mom, because she’s been one of my biggest inspirations, and she inspired me to actually join the Air Force and instill some type of discipline in myself,” said Ghrim-Harvey. “I wanted to talk about stories I went through as a kid and how we overcame together and how our relationship since then has grown. I think that definitely how I grew up, and the things that I watched her experience, has made me a better person.”

Ghrim-Harvey’s work is scheduled to publish in the spring of 2023. Until then, she’ll continue to write and use her words to express herself emotionally.