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Office of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs

Art, it’s a Beautiful Thing

National Veterans Creative Arts Festival

Bud Smith next to his award winnng painting.

Two Creative Arts Festivals, two gold medals for Vietnam Veteran Harold (Bud) Smith of Newburyport, Mass. When Smith returned from Vietnam he knew something was wrong, but he didn’t know what. PTSD wasn't mentioned back in 1962 when he was discharged from the Air Force. He tried different activities on his own to address his problems…hypnosis and yoga, among others. Then he began "doodling" on a pad of paper and then to painting, when he realized it was helping him. Smith has been painting ever since and now owns an art studio and gallery in Newburyport.

Smith learned about the Creative Arts Festival from the staff at the VA Boston Healthcare System, and in 2005, entered one of his oil paintings. That painting won a gold medal at his first Festival and now hangs in the lobby of the West Roxbury campus for everyone to enjoy. This year’s entry, also an oil painting, is a gold medal winner, and once again Smith has decided to donate this painting to the VA Boston Healthcare System. Smith is thrilled to be at this year’s Festival, and meeting all the other artists. "The smiles...everyone is so nice and always smiling, that is what impresses me about this Festival," said Smith.

Smith never goes anywhere without his sketchpad, and sure enough there it was on the table in front of him during this interview. He now has art classes for Veterans in his community, teaching them to paint and helping them to cope with their problems. "Art worked so well for me, I do this in hopes that it will help other Veterans," he said. Therapy through art, it’s a beautiful thing.

By Diane Keefe, public affairs officer, VA Boston Healthcare System

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