Music Therapy for Military Service Members in Alaska

Second Lady Karen Pence Visits Creative Forces Site at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson

Friday, February 9, 2018

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Second Lady Karen Pence recently visited Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Anchorage, Alaska, and observed a Creative Forces music therapy group session as part of her national and international initiative, Art Therapy: Healing with the HeART.

Brush, Breath and Line: A Veteran’s Recovery through the Arts

I am a US Army veteran, artist, teacher, creative soul guide, and like all of us—a work in progress. With all of these things that I feel I am, I know that being of service to others has been and will always be a thread in the tapestry of my life. The many journeys within my life always bring new challenges, self-awareness, and growth. It's been 20 years since my first battle with suicidal ideation and major depression. I've had some relapses since then, but with each fight, insights surface and propel me to more self-discovery and deeper healing. It wasn't until after my last relapse four years ago that I discovered what my “service to others” would be, and that my journey of healing through creativity would be born.

Looking Back and Moving Forward—Supporting Our Veterans Through the Arts

November is Veterans Month, a time to celebrate, honor, and reflect on the contributions of the men and women who have served our country in peacetime and in conflict. Earlier this month, I made my way to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center for their 14th Annual Healing Arts Exhibit and Symposium, where I was met by the champion of this effort, Captain Moira G. McGuire, and had an opportunity to explore the art on display. My job there was to give the opening speech about the long history of connection between the arts and the military going all the way back to the days of Benjamin Franklin and George Washington, but being surrounded by the incredible artwork produced by the wounded, ill, and injured members of the armed services and their families was the real benefit of being there.

2017 National Veterans Creative Arts Festival

Art from the Veteran's Heart

Monday, November 6, 2017

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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

UPDATED! Top 10 Reasons to Support the Arts for National Arts & Humanities Month

October is National Arts & Humanities Month, a time to celebrate and champion the arts locally and nationally. The arts are fundamental to our humanity. They ennoble and inspire us—fostering creativity, goodness, and beauty. The arts bring us joy, help us express our values, and build bridges between cultures. The arts are also a fundamental component of a healthy community—strengthening them socially, educationally, and economically—benefits that persist even in difficult social and economic times. The effective arts advocate needs a full quiver of case-making arrows to articulate the value of the arts in as many ways as possible—from the passionately inherent to the functionally pragmatic. To help fill your quiver, I offer an updated Top 10 Reasons to Support the Arts.

“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

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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

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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.

National Lieutenant Governors Association and Americans for the Arts Sign State Military and Veterans Arts Initiative

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

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On Friday, July 28, the National Lieutenant Governors Association (NLGA) and Americans for the Arts signed a first-of-its-kind collaboration supporting the military and their families. The State Military and Veterans Arts Initiative seeks to increase visibility, understanding, and support for the care of persons across the military continuum (to include active duty and reserve service members, veterans, their families, and caregivers) and the role the arts can play in their health and wellness. 

The Arts and Veterans: A Mighty Force

The Fourth of July is a time to honor and reflect on the determination and sacrifices of our service members in making our freedom possible. Over the years, stories have emerged of how veterans across the country come back—and what they give back—after overcoming sometimes decades of struggles with combat and service-related illness and injuries. Many of these veterans say that the arts saved their lives—but in finding their creative voice, they are also enriching our lives too.

Helping Veterans Build Connections Between Creative Arts Therapy Programs and Their Local Arts Communities Through Telehealth

The past five years have been a renaissance for those of us who incorporate the arts into our work with Veterans. However, as professionals who deeply engage in this work each day, we are aware that gaps remain in the continuum of care provided to Veterans. One such gap is in the transition from clinic to home-based care. Many service members and Veterans receive intensive therapy, including creative arts therapy, following an injury or illness and then return to their own corners of the world, which are disproportionately rural and isolated. 

The Mission of Theater: The Contract of Showtime

There are basic contracts theater makers enter with each other when they start a project. These unwritten rules govern the creation of a piece of theater. We understand that what is shared at a performance is only between those who are there, and although the performance disappears forever once the lights are dimmed, what was shared remains and is carried by the audience. For the veterans who tell their stories through theater, their burdens can become a little lighter, a little more bearable—and that can make the pain of telling worthwhile.

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

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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.

Arts Deployed

Americans for the Arts is pleased to release a new guide, Arts Deployed: An Action Guide for Community Arts & Military Programming, for local arts organizations and artists interested in bringing creative arts programming to military and Veteran communities, their caregivers, and families.

Veterans living in rural areas face many health disparities and have greater difficulty accessing needed care. Heather Spooner works with the University of Florida's Center for Arts in Medicine telehealth-based art therapy clinical demonstration project at the Malcolm Randall VA Medical Center, which addresses the needs of rural Veterans by providing them with supervised art therapy in their own home.

The Second National Roundtable for Arts, Health & Well-being across the Military Continuum

A Plan for Action 2017 -2020

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

The second Roundtable of the National Initiative for Arts & Health in the Military (NIAHM) was held on November 30 at Joint Base Myer Henderson Hall, Virginia to discuss how to bring greater access to the arts and creative arts therapies for military service members, Veterans, their families and caregivers.

Army Veteran Willie Weaver-Bey showcases the healing power of art at the 2016 National Veterans Creative Arts Festival. The ex-con turned to VA's at-risk and creative arts programs after serving 40 years in prison for drug convictions. Weaver-Bey is one of more than 120 Veterans who participated in the 2016 festival held in Jackson, Mississippi.

Air Force Veteran Chris Smith says VA health care helped him deal with the anxiety of losing his eyesight. The Chicago musician and singer found healing and rehabilitation with music therapy at the Jesse Brown VA Medical Center. Smith was one of more than 120 Veterans to participate in the 2016 National Veterans Creative Arts Festival in Jackson, Mississippi.

The Therapeutic Healing of Art Among Veterans

Studies have proven that a designed interior with emphasis on color and art provides a therapeutic experience without stress to the client/patient, and is an ideal setting to gain the best outcome from a visit to the medical office or clinic. Unfortunately, there are those who see art as a luxury or an unnecessary expense, rather than as a therapeutic healing supplement to enhance the greater purpose and to improve both internal and external health. This is one of the reasons I created The Veterans Art Venue, with a mission to exhibit, to provide, and to empower through art, beyond words. Our art evokes a thought, a reflection and a therapeutic embrace.

Giving Voice Through Art

I am an artist and a military spouse. I create artwork that expresses the fragile strength of life as an Army wife.  I have found that if I can express my challenges and frustrations through my art, the message is less finite or specific. The artwork is not just about me. And it’s not only cathartic to me, but it leaves room for the viewer to bring his or her own experience and voice to the visual conversation as well—in ways that words and writing can not. 

Supporting the Health of Our Veterans with the Arts

As Veterans Day approaches, we wanted to take pause to reflect on the transformative power that access to the arts has on veterans, their families, and the communities they call home. Today and tomorrow, we will be publishing blog posts exploring the impact that access to the arts and creative arts therapies has had on veterans’ recovery and reintegration—and sometimes even redeployment. But for every veteran and service member, as well as their families and loved ones, who has felt and benefitted from the transformative power of the arts, there are some decision-makers who need to be convinced. 

The Park Avenue Chamber Symphony Orchestra (PACS) will honor veterans of the United States Armed Forces with a large-scale gala concert at Carnegie Hall on November 19, 8pm. The performance will feature the New York premiere of Dreams of the Fallen - the much-admired new work by award-winning composer Jake Runestad and the poet and United States Army veteran Brian Turner.

Nov 11 - 7:00pm and Nov 14 - 10:15am

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