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

The competition includes over 51 categories representing visual arts, from oil paintings to fiber arts.  In addition, there are 100 categories in the performing arts pertaining to all aspects of music, dance, drama and creative writing. Through a national judging process, first, second and third place entries in each category are determined. This year 3,500 Veterans from 138 VA medical facilities participated. Over 140 gold medal winners earned an invitation to participate in the 2017 National Veterans Creative Arts Festival (NVCAF). 

“My participation in art, creative writing and music has enhanced my life greatly.  It has allowed me to control pain levels, have a better outlook and create an opportunity for self-expression and awareness.” Charles Marshall, VA, USMC, Gold Medal category - Knotting

The event took place from October 23-29, hosted by the VA Western New York Healthcare System in Buffalo, New York.  Art workshops and tours were held at the Burchfield Penney Art Center and the Albright-Knox Gallery for the visual artists.  Creative writers participated in a Writing Seminar led by author and Veteran Ron Capps of the Veterans Writing Project, as well as a night of readings at the Creative Writers Coffeehouse.  Performing artists practiced, rehearsed, sang, danced, and jammed together all week.

“Performing...helps me focus on things other than my disabilities, challenges and pain.” Angela Walker, IL, USN, Gold Medal category – Vocal Group Rock & Pop

Festival week culminated with the Art Exhibit, Creative Writer’s Meet & Greet, and live Stage Show with orchestral accompaniment at the beautiful Center for the Arts on the campus of the University of Buffalo. Plans are already underway for the 2018 NVCAF to be hosted by the VA Central iowa Health Care System in Des Moines, Iowa.

The National Veterans Creative Arts Festival is presented by the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)and the American Legion Auxiliary.

Ron Capps, creative writer's seminar, is the founder and director of the Veterans Writing Project, a member of the National Initiative Directory at Americans for the Arts.