Eastern Oklahoma VA Health Care System
Veterans Showcase Artistic Abilities
On March 14-15, 12 Veterans showcased their artistic abilities at the Jack C. Montgomery VA Medical Center during a local competition of the 2011 National Veterans Creative Arts competition.
Across the country each year, Veterans treated at VA facilities compete in local creative arts competitions which includes 53 categories in the visual arts division that range from oil painting to leather-work to paint-by-number kits. In addition, there are 123 categories in the per-forming arts including music, dance, drama and creative writing.
Army Veteran Rhonda Akers drove two hours from Fairland, Okla. to participate in the competition and submitted entries in nine separate categories. Akers and the other contestants performed their dramatic performances for the crowd and read their creative writing entries out loud.
“It’s wonderful,” she said. “It’s exciting. It really stretches your mind and keeps you active. I enjoy writing, so I can reflect on past experiences.”
JCMVAMC will submit all entries to a national selection committee who will then choose first, second and third place winners among all of the entries. Select winners will then be invited to attend the National Veterans Creative Arts Festival, which will be held in October in Fayetteville, Ark.
Army Veteran Connie Lockwood was invited to attend the national festival in 2008 and hopes one of his eight entries this year will earn him an invitation this fall.
“I always want to go and see the other (Veterans),” said Lockwood. “But I know the competition and you’re competing with some of the best in the country and some of these people are actually professionals at this stuff.”
Nationwide, 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.
“Art, music, creative writing - all those can be therapeutic outlets for people who are going through difficult times to express their feelings on paper or on canvas or in a piece of pottery,” said Deborah Moreno, a recreation therapist and program manager for the JCMVAMC creative arts program. “Plus when the Veterans get together, they can help one another reinforce positive feelings with each other. When one is around someone else who likes the same thing as you do, then that just motivates the person to want to become more creative and get involved.”
The national selection committee is expected to announce the winners of all 176 categories in June and the Veterans who will be invited to the festival.
For more information about the National Veterans Creative Arts Festival, visit their website: http://www.va.gov/opa/speceven/caf/index.asp