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The Healing Power of the Arts

Ceramic Cowboy boot

“The End of the Cowboy Trail,” an entry in the “Stained or Painted Ceramics” category by John Spraker at the Washington DC VA Medical Center

A Few of Last Year’s Winners

Woman with knitted shawl

Army Veteran Michelle Galant, representing the VA medical facility in Anchorage, Alaska, won a Gold Medal in the Art Division, Crocheting/Knitting

Man with miniature model boat

Marine Corps and Navy Veteran Frank Erpelding-Chacon, representing the VA medical facility in Albuquerque, N.M., won a Gold Medal in the Art Division, Plastic Model Building Kit

Woman singing with quartet

Army Veteran Dezire Lauture, representing the VA medical facility in Temple, Texas, won a Bronze Medal in the Music Division, Vocal Solo Broadway

Thousands of Vets Compete in 173 Creative Categories

The National Veterans Creative Arts Festival is a week of learning, exploring, fellowship and celebration of the healing power of the arts.

Across the country each year, Veterans treated at VA facilities compete in a local creative arts competition. 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.

This year, the Festival is being hosted by the Veterans Health Care System of the Ozarks and is being held in Fayetteville and Bentonville, Arkansas.

The competition includes more than 53 art categories that range from oil painting to leatherwork and even paint-by-number kits.

In addition, there are 120 categories pertaining to all aspects of music, dance, drama and creative writing. The creative writing division is a more recent addition to the competition and includes original works in poetry, essay, short story, and personal experience writing.

A national selection committee chooses first, second, and third place winners among in all of the entries. Selected winners are then invited to attend the National Veterans Creative Arts Festival each year.

Festival a Showcase for National Winners

Because the gold, silver or bronze medal winners are already selected to participate in the Festival, there is no competition at the event itself. Rather, it serves as a showcase for the top national winners.

During the week of the event, participants may attend classes in fine, applied, and craft art, all taught by local artists. As part of the Festival, Veterans also visit a variety of local attractions including art museums and galleries, as well as other sites of interest to area visitors.

The Festival culminates on Sunday, October 23, with an art exhibit featuring all first- place art entries, followed by a free gala stage show performance, professionally directed with live orchestral accompaniment generously provided by the Music Performance Fund.

In 2010, 3,625 Veterans from 123 VA facilities entered the competition nationwide, with 143 of the medal-winning Veterans earning an invitation to participate in the 2010 National Veterans Creative Arts Festival, hosted by the VA Medical Center in Tomah, Wisconsin.

The National Veterans Creative Arts Festival is presented each year by the Department of Veterans Affairs, Help Hospitalized Veterans and the American Legion Auxiliary.