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National Veterans Creative Arts Festival

Michelle McKenzie

Sure, she's not sweating it out on the court, driving to the basket or aggressively rebounding anymore, but Michelle McKenzie is still a big star with the Veterans she helps. McKenzie is the lead recreation therapist at the New Mexico VA Health Care System. She is also a former college and professional basketball player!

This is McKenzie's first time attending the Festival as a staff/volunteer team leader. Life has a funny sense of timing. Much like her playing career, when a teammate gets injured and has to leave the game, sometimes you have to sub in. In this case, the teammate was a fellow recreational therapist who was scheduled to attend the Festival. As life would have it, the colleague had to withdraw five days prior to the Festival and McKenzie took her place.

"So far I've found that the Festival is extremely organized and well orchestrated," McKenzie says. "I've also had a lot of fun." She states that helping Veterans whether it is through the use of therapeutic arts or other activities is a very rewarding endeavor. Although it is her first Festival, McKenzie says that she will definitely be attending more. Like everyone else who experiences it for the first time, including this writer, she is absolutely amazed at the wealth of talent assembled here.

By Darin Farr, public affairs officer, VA Sierra Nevada Health Care System

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