Eastern Oklahoma VA Health Care System
Art is Creative Outlet for Veterans
Nationwide, VA medical facilities incorporate creative arts as one form of rehabilitative treatment to help Veterans recover from and cope with physical and emotional disabilities.
As part of that mission, medical facilities hold a creative arts competition each year to recognize the progress and recovery Veterans have made following a disease, disability or life crisis.
On Feb. 8-9, the Eastern Oklahoma VA Health Care System (EOVAHCS) held its annual creative arts competition which included more than 40 art, creative writing, dance, drama and music entries from local Veterans.
First place entries are submitted to a national selection committee that chooses first, second and third place winners nationwide. Select winners will then be invited to attend the National Veterans Creative Arts Festival.
Air Force Veteran Ann Parham, who entered the competition for the first time this year, said she would be thrilled if her decorative photo album won an award.
“It would be lovely, but there are a lot of great artists here,” said Parham, who lives in Terlton, Okla.
While she loves scrapbooking, Parham said it’s also an outlet to help her cope with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
“It’s a place I go when that PTSD kicks in and I get down in that dark spot,” she said. “It takes my mind off of the depression and anxiety. It just gives me an outlet to get rid of that.”
Army Veteran Ralph Henderson, who entered an oil painting in the competition, said art helps him cope with depression.
“In the winter time, I can’t get out for four to five months out of the year,” said Henderson, who lives in Tulsa. “Somedays, I’m depressed and my mood is kind of low. So this is what I do, I paint. It relaxes me. In the summer time, I fish.”
Deborah Moreno, coordinator for the EOVAHCS Creative Arts Program, said she is proud of all Veterans who participated in this year’s competition and encourages other Veterans to participate next year.
“The creative arts are very therapeutic for so many Veterans and a way to deal with issues that some Veterans experience,” she said. “It can provide an outlet to express your feelings whether it’s through an essay, a song, piece of pottery or an oil painting. There are many artistic outlets Veterans can pursue.”
Join the Open Art Studio
Along with the annual creative arts competition, EOVAHCS holds an Open Art Studio for enrolled Veterans. The studio is held every Monday in the Jack C. Montgomery VA Medical Center auditorium from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m.
The program is an opportunity for Veterans to create art of their choice and socialize with other Veteran artists. To learn more, contact Deborah Moreno at 918-577-4014.