June 5, 2018 -- On June 4th, Toms River High School North hosted Mr. Frank Romeo and many pieces of his artwork from his collection titled, "The Art of War" in the RWJBarnabas Health Arena.
Mr. Romeo is a Vietnam Veteran who was part of a small Special Forces group that was ambushed in August of 1969. He was shot 7 times and woke up months later in a hospital in Japan. After a year of surgeries around the globe, he was discharged from a hospital in Queens, NY. Mr. Romeo spent 40 years battling an internal struggle with his Vietnam experience and PTSD while raising a family of 7 children on Long Island. His story is too complex to share in full here.
He began painting in private in the 1990s as a way to deal with the trauma of Vietnam. One of his paintings is now in the National Veterans Art Museum in Chicago as part of a collection that has been declared a National Treasure.
Part of Mr. Romeo's current work is promoting a planned walk across the state of NY to increase awareness about PTSD and the plight of our many disabled, homeless, or unemployed veterans. He plans to raise funds to support a documentary film to spread his message to a national audience.
Mr. Romeo invited the students and parents of our district along with any interested members of the community to discuss the effects of war, PTSD, and the plight of our veterans. He displayed a large exhibit of Vietnam veteran artwork and artifacts with an emphasis on the many complex facets of warfare and the rippling effects on society in the United States.