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Veterans creative arts festivals

Department of Veterans Affairs (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. Creative arts is incorporated into Veterans' therapy programs to further the rehabilitation goals for both inpatients and outpatients. These annual competitions recognize the progress and recovery made through that therapy and raises the visibility of the creative achievements of our Nation’s Veterans.

National Veteran Creative Arts Festival

The National Veterans Creative Arts Competition and Festival recognizes the role creative arts therapy plays in the rehabilitation of Veterans. Veterans who showcase their achievements in the festival are selected gold medal winners of national art, music, dance, drama, and writing competitions in which thousands of Veterans enter from VA facilities across the nation. The festival is presented by VA and the American Legion Auxiliary and culminates with a stage performance, writing exhibition, and gallery-style showcase of artwork.

Learn more about the National Creative Arts Festival

National Veterans Creative Arts Festival Facebook page

NVCAF 2021

Local Veteran Creative Arts Festival

Bay Pines VA hosts their local competition each year to select the best entries to represent our healthcare system in the national-level competition. Veterans exhibit their artwork and original writings or perform musical, dance or dramatic selections. Selected gold-medal-winning Veterans are invited to attend the National Veterans Creative Arts Festival hosted by a different VA facility each year. 

2021 Bay Pines VA Healthcare System local competition entries and winners

Despite the challenges of the past year, and the transition to a virtual format, our Veterans proudly submitted more than 130 entries into this competition this year. This volume of entries proves to us all our Veterans’ resilience and their determination in using art for wellness. 

More than 75 Veterans reached out to submit their entries, either by email, text, through special socially distanced recording sessions and drive-through artwork photography events.  The result of this creative effort is the show you see here, including judging results with first, second, and third place winners.

Watch welcoming remarks and congratulations from the Bay Pines VA Healthcare System Director and CEO, Mr. Paul Russo.

Below are the 2021 entries and winners for Art, Creative Writing and Music categories. The first-place winners in each category from this competition will go on to compete in the National Competition for a chance to win a gold, silver, or bronze medal.  All gold medal winners will be invited to participate in the National Veterans Creative Arts Festival, scheduled to be held April 18-25, 2022 in downtown Saint Petersburg. 

For information about future Veterans Creative Arts Festivals at Bay Pines VA, please reach out to Erin Todd, MT-BC at 727-222-2686, or via email at

2021 Local VCAF Winners
2021 Bay Pines VA Creative Writing Category entries and winners
2021 Bay Pines VA Music entries and winners