Making the Case for the NEA and NEH
Monday, March 27, 2017
President Trump's plans to defund the NEA and the NEH move forward without consideration for programs that exist successfully to serve our returning service men and women who have sacrificed physically, mentally, and morally in the service of our country. With President Trump's plans for an increase in military spending, there will be an immediate and increasing need for the military programs of the NEA and NEH that help military servicemembers and Veterans cope with haunting memories, disabilities, and their future family and community lives.
Creative Forces: NEA Military Healing Network is an expansion of the National Endowment for the Arts and the Department of Defense military healing arts programs. Creative Forces places creative arts therapies at the core of patient centered care at 15 clinical sites, plus a telehealth program, and increased access to therapeutic arts activities in local communities for military service members, Veterans, their families, and caregivers. The program is also invested in researching the impacts and benefits of these innovative treatment methods for traumatic brain injuries (TBI) and post-traumatic stress (PTS) since 2017. The National Endowment for the Humanities funds programs for Veterans and service personnel including the Warrior Chorus.
The fate of projects like these are likely to be determined in the upcoming key congressional appropriations committees as they consider whether the two endowments should be funded, and at what level. It should be noted that the NEA and the NEH military programs do not act to garner votes, but exist to heal our nation’s wounded warriors and increase access to the arts for our military servicemembers and Veterans, as part of their original mission. Now, with the fate of the National Endowment of the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities in the hands of the Republican lawmakers controlling Congress, supporters of the endowments say mentioning the work they do with the military and veterans is important when lobbying lawmakers.
“It definitely resonates with Congress, as it should,” said Robert L. Lynch, president of Americans for the Arts, a nationally strong arts advocacy group with its own successful arts and military program, the National Initiative for Arts & Health in the Military.
Many Republican congressional committee members have not said whether they will support the agencies. But Senator Lisa Murkowski, an Alaska Republican who is chairwoman of the appropriations panel that oversees the endowments, has backed them. In explaining her support, she spoke of the N.E.A.’s work in her district, including the arts therapy work, which she fought to extend and is being carried out at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in her own state. “I have consistently supported funding for the arts and humanities and have seen the direct benefits of these programs in communities across Alaska,” Senator Murkowski said in a statement. She cited the NEA Creative Forces program at the Alaskan base, which “treats our wounded warriors.”