National Veterans Creative Arts Festival

We’ve been talking about healing through the arts this week and how the creative process can help veterans cope with injuries and illnesses. While the art that is created is often reward enough, getting a little recognition for your efforts never hurts. Which is why the annual National Veterans Creative Arts Festival is such a great opportunity.

Co-sponsored by the Department of Veterans Affairs and the American Legion Auxiliary, the festival showcases the creative works of veterans in the VA’s in and outpatient programs. As the VA uses several forms of art therapy as part of the veteran rehabilitation process, the festival provides a venue to demonstrate the effectiveness of those therapies, as well as recognize veterans for their creative efforts. The festival has 53 visual arts categories, everything, the VA says, from “leatherwork to paint-by-number kits,” and 120 performing art categories, including dance, music, creative writing, and drama.

Competition begins at the start of each year at individual VA facilities, with local competitions being held in mid-February. A national committee then selects first, second, and third place winners. Select winners are then invited to attend the National Veterans Creative Arts Festival in the Fall for a week of arts related events. Past events have included museum tours, karaoke, performances, and workshops on fly fishing and lure making, watercolor techniques, tile painting, creative writing, pottery making, cartoon drawing, and even one on papermaking by the Combat Paper Project. The week starts and ends with banquets.

The location of the festival changes each year, with past festivals being held in such locations as the Ozarks, Reno, NV, and San Antonio, TX. This year’s festival will be held in Milwaukee, WI, from 27 Oct-2 Nov. The final day of the festival will be open to the public. The art exhibit will be open from 12-1:45pm and the stage show is scheduled for 2pm. Admission is free, but tickets are required for the stage show. Ticket information will be available after 1 Sept.

You can find out more about the National Veterans Creative Arts Festival from your local VA facility or on the VA’s website. You can see photos of past festivals on the festival’s Facebook page.

© 2014 – 2020, Sarah Maples LLC. All rights reserved.

Sarah Maples is a former Air Force intelligence officer and an Afghanistan veteran. She is a freelance writer and editor, specializing in veteran, military, and defense topics.

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