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Meet a First Timer

National Veterans Creative Arts Festival

Richard Beck with his winning artwork of "Slippin' into Darkness."

Sometimes hobbies lead to great things. First time National Veterans Creative Arts Festival attendee Richard Beck can attest to that. Richard is a Vietnam Veteran who originally started to draw when he was a child.

As Beck tells it, he was actually in college during the 60's and his heart really wasn't into it at the time, so he dropped out. Inevitably, as most young men discovered during that time, Beck ended up getting drafted and subsequently sent to Vietnam. It wasn't until after his return from Vietnam and he experienced what many Veterans at that time went through; that the real ugliness of the war was the treatment our young men faced when they got home.

As a way to vent his frustration, Beck returned to his passion of drawing to express the myriad of emotions that were welling up inside him. Returning to college in the early 70's, now with the added benefit of the G.I. Bill, he began to explore more of his talent. Years later he just happened to be at an appointment at his local VA, in Albuquerque, N.M., and spotted a poster for the local Creative Arts Festival competition. Taking the advice of his family, Beck entered some of his original work in the Military Combat Experience category and won the Gold Medal in the national competition. Be sure to meet Beck and experience his work "Slippin' into Darkness." It is a very powerful and thought provoking work of art that will hit home with Veterans of all eras.

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

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