Vet Voices: A Healing Journey into Theatre Arts

Early in 2017, TheatreWorks Florida was interested in a new focus group for their highly successful community outreach program, TheatreCares. Through a quick internet search of “arts,” “health,” and “military,” I fell down a rabbit hole of information that led to an incredible year and a half journey of discovery to combine theatre arts with military veteran health needs. The outcome is our outstanding arts and health in the military program called Vet Voices, which provides veterans an opportunity for positive self-awareness and self-discovery in a creative “safe space” environment and allows veterans affected by war to explore the theatre arts and ultimately find healing through creativity.

VSA Texas Distinguished Artist Veterans: A State of Arts & Military Outreach

VSA Texas works with people with disabilities as they access the arts. This can be as a patron of the arts or as an artist. Through our Artworks: Creative Industries program, we meet artists where they are in their hobby or career and act as a resource to move them to where they want to be in that hobby or career. My challenge is to find out what the barriers are for our artists and find ways for each of them to work through those barriers to reach their personal goals. In 2009, we noticed a barrier for Veteran artists within our own services. Veterans in our community were not identifying as artists with disabilities, so they were not entering our art exhibitions or attending our workshops and events. Rather than trying to change their viewpoints, we adapted ours and started programming specifically for Veterans.

Author(s): Oklahoma Arts Council
Date of Publication: Jan 01, 2015

A evaluation catalogue that can assist individuals and organizations in providing programming for veterans and military members in their communities. It consists a University of Oklahoma program evaluation of the pilot arts program for residents at the Norman Veterans Center, offered through a collaboration of the Oklahoma Arts Council and Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs.

Author(s): National Assembly of State Arts Agencies
Date of Publication: Jan 01, 2014

This strategy sampler summarizes existing policy goals, services and relationships of SAAs and RAOs working to support military and veteran populations through the arts. It also highlights programmatic issues and other challenges these agencies face in rea lizing their arts and military goals .

Author(s): Americans for the Arts
Date of Publication: Jan 01, 2016

A Briefing Paper prepared for the National Roundtable for Arts, Health and Well-being Across the Military Continuum, November 30, 2016.

Author(s): Americans for the Arts
Date of Publication: Jan 01, 2013

Published in October, 2013 the report, Arts, Health, and Well-Being Across the Military Continuum - White Paper and Framing a National Plan for Action, details a series of recommendations in the areas of research, practice, and policy that came out of two national convenings. The convening were The Arts and Health in the Military National Roundtable (November 2012) and the National Summit: Arts, Health, and Well-Being Across the Military Continuum.

2017 National Veterans Creative Arts Festival

Art from the Veteran's Heart

Monday, November 6, 2017


Nationwide, VA medical facilities use the creative arts as one form of rehabilitative treatment to help Veterans recover from and cope with physical and emotional disabilities. Across the country each year, Veterans enrolled at VA health care facilities compete in a local creative arts competition that began in January.

“I write because it is healing, and creativity is the opposite of war.” Peter Bourret, AZ, USMC, Gold Medal category - Poetry

“To My Fellow Combat Veterans”

I taught theatre in Lee’s Summit, MO for many years and had the privilege to work with many wonderful students. One of them I truly treasured was Richard Gibson, who went on to enlist in the Marines after high school and serve his country with honor. Richard wrote a letter in response to the budget situation facing the Missouri Legislature this year. From his words, I hope all elected officials realize the value of the arts in education. Adequate funding for schools keep arts programs alive. Public investment in arts agencies allows institutions in large cities and rural communities alike to provide arts opportunities for their citizens.

Tennessee Shakespeare Company Partners with the Memphis VA Medical Association

Healing through Theatre Practices

Friday, September 1, 2017


In August 2017, the Tennessee Shakespeare Company began working with Veterans at the Memphis VA Medical Association. This program brings together service Veterans with theatre practitioners to use the plays of Shakespeare in addressing combat-related traumatic and re-integration issues.

Dare County Arts Council - Outer Banks Veterans Writing Project (VWP)

OBX Veterans Week in North Carolina

Friday, September 1, 2017


The OBX Veterans Week is a collaborative event on the Outer Banks of North Carolina that celebrates Veterans, active-duty military and their families through the arts. Founded in 2013, the event is in its fifth year and is scheduled to take place November 3-12, 2017.  OBX Veterans Week is organized by Dare County Arts Council in Manteo, NC.

Five Views of the Healing Power of the Arts

This week, Americans for the Arts is sharing the diverse arts and health experiences of five Assistant Scholars and Lecturers at the UF Center for Arts in Medicine in Gainesville. You will read of the joint experience of both patient and artist, the benefits of storytelling among children engaged in a journey of treatment, and the challenge of shaping healthy lifestyles among teenagers with theater, as well as two stories of the arts and healing for Veterans.

Can Programs That Help the Military Save the Federal Arts Agencies?

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, dis

"She Went to War"

An Autobiographical Performance by Four Female Veterans

Monday, March 27, 2017


Well known for bridging the military/civilian divide through theatre in cities across the nation since 2008, the Telling Project's recent production of "She Went to War" at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis, MN acknowledged the distinctive and important roles women play on the battlefield.  "She Went to War" was written by Max Reyneard - Senior Writer/Producer and Jonathan Wei - Founder/Executive Director of the Telling Project.

Legally blind Veteran Jim Stevens shares how creating his art forms with mono-filament line has saved his life.

Jim Stevens, lifetime member of Denver, Colorado’s VFW Post 1, was just awarded First Place for Fine Art, Mixed Media in the 2016 Denver Veterans Creative Arts Festival. Legally blind from an injury suffered in Vietnam, Jim Stevens relies on an adjustable monocular lens from the US Department of Veterans Affairs to make his art. The portrait of Jim’s granddaughter, “Embers”, was created on more than 450 yards of monofilament line. This video is the amazing story of how art saved Jim Stevens’ life.

“We’re hoping to show that language is a powerful tool, that self-expression is a powerful tool—it’s just as valuable as any rifle you carry or any tool you can put in your pack,” says Marine-turned-actor Adam Driver (Girls, Star Wars:The Force Awakens). In this 2015 video, Driver, who is the founder of Arts in the Armed Forces, introduces a U.S. military audience to the theatrical performance they are about to see.

Author(s): Cameron Ritchie, Elspeth (Editor)
Date of Publication: Jan 01, 2015

Approximately a quarter of service members deployed to war have PTSD. The psychological injuries of war, PTSD, moral injury, and related conditions, lead to other issues with employment and intimate relationships. There are conventional, evidence-based therapies that are effective—if the service member or veteran is able to tolerate the treatments. However, the clinicians in the military and veteran’s health-care systems are innovative. They have experimented with alternative ways to engage veterans. These include mindfulness, art therapy, stellate ganglion block, training


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