Sam Pressler - Armed Services Arts Partnership (ASAP)
Sam Pressler, a 2015 Echoing Green Global Fellow and the founder of the Armed Services Arts Partnership (ASAP), has a plan to bridge the military/civilian divide and to release soldiers from the stigma associated with seeking traditional therapies for PTS and TBI.
ASAP offers community-creating, expressive arts programs to ease the invisible wounds of war among veterans and service members, reduce stress and anxiety among families, and improve the welfare of communities facing these concerns. Twenty-two veterans commit suicide each day, meaning 8,000 families per year endure the tragedy Sam’s family experienced after his uncle’s suicide. Sam created alternative therapeutic options for veterans living near his university.
The Armed Services Arts Partnership (ASAP) partners with veterans nonprofits and colleges to provide expressive arts programs for veterans and their families. ASAP offers two therapeutic outlets, expression and community. By teaming with colleges, ASAP leverages existing resources and boosts engagement among student bodies disengaged from veterans. In partnering with veterans nonprofits, ASAP avoids duplication of services for veterans and delivers otherwise unattainable scale.
ASAP writing seminars blossomed into a community, which evolved into the William & Mary Center for Veterans Engagement (WMCVE), offering writing groups, music sessions, and the first-ever stand-up comedy class for veterans. The success of WMCVE led Sam to launch a nonprofit that offers these programs on a larger scale. This year, the Comedy Bootcamp has expanded to include a Fall 2015 program Georgetown University. But by 2020, ASAP aims to establish, develop, and sustain expressive arts communities in areas across the United States with the largest military populations.
The Armed Services Arts Partnership is a member of the National Initiative Directory an online publication of the National Initiative for Arts & Health in the Military at Americans for the Arts. For more information on advancing the arts in the health and well-being of our military servicemembers, veterans, atheir families, and caregivers, visit us at www.ArtsAcrosstheMilitary.org.
Sam graduated Phi Beta Kappa and Summa Cum Laude from the College of William & Mary, where he was a Ewell Award recipient, McGlennon Scholar, and TEDx Innovative Thinker. His efforts have been covered by CNN, NPR, the Military Times, Stars & Stripes, and Soldiers Magazine.