(Part 1) There are a myriad of ways that veterans find solace after service. Many are surprised to learn how prevalent the arts are in the veteran community, and how effective visual art and creative writing can be in helping a veteran to express him/herself.
From www.artsforallwi.org :
"ARTS for ALL Wisconsin’s Veterans Arts Studios were formed in partnership with Vet Centers in Wisconsin to engage veterans with disabilities in art making experiences. Veterans programs are free, and expanding to welcome veterans with disabilities from the public as well as Vet Center clients."
Questions? Comments? Continue the discussion by requesting access to our exclusive WVF Facebook Group.
Wisconsin Veterans Forward is brought to you by the Wisconsin Veterans Chamber of Commerce, a nonprofit organization that serves veterans and military families by supporting veteran owned and veteran-friendly businesses throughout the state.
On behalf of our members, we serve as an advocate for Wisconsin’s veteran business community and promote economic opportunity for military veterans, military families, and veteran-friendly businesses.
Follow us on all platforms: https://linktr.ee/Wivetschamber
Intro & Outro Themes:
Barry Dallas - I’m Gone (https://uppbeat.io/t/barry-dallas/im-gone)
Noise Cake - Light It Up (https://uppbeat.io/t/noise-cake/light-it-up)
Today on Wisconsin veterans forward veterans often need assistance. They often need help when it comes to reintegration. Uh, some of them have a hard time, especially combat veterans, especially those who may have been injured in , uh, the process of serving their country. Uh , the folks who may have, have been dealing with post-traumatic stress as a result of their service , uh, whether combat or non combat related a , a lot of service members and their families even have stress associated with their reintegration back to the civilian world and the civilian working world. We all know that it's something we talk about all the time, but how those veterans and military families find solace and peace in battling whatever is, is afflicting them physically, mentally, meta, physically, spiritually, whatever it , it varies. And the efficacy of these coping mechanisms and these healing mechanisms varies drastically from person to person. Some people use exercise, some people use cooking and a lot of veterans, a shockingly law , large amount of veterans find peace and transformative healing through the arts. They find a way to express themselves via visual art, painting, sculpture, pottery, mixed media, you name it or mixed medium rather. Is it mixed medium or mixed media? I think I just showed really briefly there that I didn't know what I was talking about. I was doing a good job of sounding like very knowledgeable there for a second mixed media. Okay. Mixed media. There we go. I think that's right. Send me a message. If I'm wrong , uh, or dramatic arts spoken word theater, we've had , uh , uh , a local , uh , group here, nonprofit feast of Crispian . They do Shakespeare four veterans veterans have found if you remember that, if you haven't seen it, go back and watch it. It's a really good one. These veterans find an opportunity to express themselves in their feelings, through these other characters and have found like they've saved lives with this. It's incredible, the impact and the musical arts as well, singer songwriter stuff, playing in a band guitars for vets is a great organization that helps , uh, that, that is basically a vehicle for music therapy for veterans. The , I mean, the , the , the , the studies that validate the arts as a healing, coping , coping, and, and , uh , and a as a pathway to piece and a mechanism for that, the , the studies are a mile long. They go out the door and around the corner and they keep going all the way from here to Nebraska. So why is it so , uh, difficult for the non-veteran community to wrap their brain around the arts? Oh, and I should also mention creative writing is in there any creative outlet for some reason, the, the general population, the 99% of people who are not in the military in this 84% of people who don't have a family member in the military. A lot of times we are viewed as robotic. We're viewed as you know, worker be . We, you know, we are inflexible robotic , uh, which is just not true. If you've ever met a veteran or engaged with a veteran, we are creative, just like everybody else. Veteran community is diverse and varied. Every demographic in age group and background and creed and orientation is represe Zed . And accordingly, the talents are different. There are CRE there are different ways, creative outlets for these veterans and , and ways for vets to, and military families and military spouses to express themselves. And they do, they have that in their bones and their DNA, just like everybody does. So, so getting that, the word out there that veterans are creative and not only , uh , are they well suited to creative expression, but can be a mechanism for healing. Uh, getting that word out is I'm , I'm , I'm a , I'm an evangelist for that. Not just cuz I have a background personally in the arts, but like it's so important. I've seen the hour music therapy and music education for these people, but you didn't come here to listen to me. Talk about that. We have , uh, acquired quite the panel of experts when it comes to this, the team from arts for all Wisconsin who do a number of program , uh , advocating for the arts throughout the state, but also veteran specific programs. Uh, they're all here. We got Jill, we got Christie , we got Joe, we got Beth, we have four people . I think this is the most we've ever had on the show. We have a , we have an army, we have a squadron. Well , squadron's an air force. You , you know what I mean? We had a group of people here to talk about the efficacy of the arts and in particular, specifically visual arts and creative writing for veterans and military families. And we're gonna get into all of that, which I'm very excited about right after this eight and a half second data you are listening to Wisconsin veterans forward. Wisconsin's premier audio, a resource for veterans, military families, veteran owned and veteran friendly businesses. Wisconsin veterans forward is brought to you by the Wisconsin veterans chamber of email@example.com , ladies and gentlemen from arts for all Wisconsin are good friends. Jill Christie , Beth, and Jill Audi, everybody.Speaker 2:
Adam, thank you for having us.Speaker 1:
Yeah. Uh , my pleasure. So let's, let's dive right in cuz I kind of pontificated on the front end and let's start Jill , what is arts for all Wisconsin? What does it do? Why should we care? Why should we support it? How does it do it? Where did it come from? Give us the, the background information here.Speaker 2:
Yeah, absolutely. Um, so arts for all , Wisconsin started as , uh , very special arts, Wisconsin and then VSA, Wisconsin. Um, we've been a statewide nonprofit for 35 plus years , um, supporting people with disabilities around the state through programs in the arts. So that's what we do. We have a lot of different , um, types of programming that we offer. Uh, one side of our organization does a lot with , um , exhibiting and selling visual art and rec presenting artists , um, to support them in that way. And I oversee all of our educational programming. So that includes , um, several adult choirs around the state programs in schools and community centers. Um, arts classes for adults work with seniors , um , with Alzheimer's and memory loss and our work with veterans , um, which started at our Madison in veterans center. Um , that happens to be in the same building as us. So that's, I think how we got connected is , um, the readjustment counselors that were working at the Madison vet center , um, had some clients who were, who were interested in, in exploring, you know, healing through the arts and they reached out and got connected with us, cuz this is what we do. We see the power of the arts , um, supporting people with all different sorts of challenges and all different sorts of life, circumstances and backgrounds. Um, and so , um, extending it to the veterans population certainly makes sense for us and it makes sense for the people that we serve.Speaker 1:
And so you're just , you're, you're in the same building as the Madison vet center. And one day you just walk by Joe there who's with the Madison vet center and you kinda looked at each other and you're like, oh wait a minute, there's an opportunity for a synergy here. Or how did that come about? And how long did it take to get all of the stakeholders obviously who have to sign off and support it and develop these programs on board ? Uh, or was it just a quick, like this makes sense. Let's, let's do this.Speaker 2:
Sure. Um, the original collaboration started before my time with arts for all actually. And so I wasn't a part of that initial , um, formation of the groups. Um, but I know that one of the previous readjustment counselors who worked there , um, really had a passion for the arts and , um, sort of believed in that power of, you know, healing and transformation that can have been through that. And so I believe it was kind of her , uh , initiative to, to bring more arts programming to the veterans that they serve. Um, Joe , I don't know if you have any more background from your perspective on, on how the , um, the vet center, you know, was really supportive in this, in this process.Speaker 1:
Yeah . I'd love to, I'd love to hear from you on this for sure.Speaker 3:
Absolutely. So yeah, it wasn't me. I was here when it happened. Um , but I don't know exactly the inside story and how it happened, but it was, it is one of our , um, uh , Jen who doesn't work here anymore, but she's the one that , um, somehow they connected. I know she connected with , uh , anytime fitness, which is just crossed the parking lot from us. Um , at one time too , trying to see if there's a way we could work with veterans and , and fitness side too. So I'm not exactly if she was the one who initiated or how it came about, but that happened. And uh, then she pulled me into it , uh , which has been a very good , uh , experience for me, my own personal journey. And just from a counseling perspective, seeing what's done for veterans, the art side, and particularly I work more with Beth on the Redding side, but , uh , yes.Speaker 1:
Do you have a background inSpeaker 4:
The arts thenSpeaker 3:
Again , I'm sorry, there was a little delay there. I didn't mean to interrupt you. Do you have a background in the arts then? Was this kind of a new endeavor for you?Speaker 3:
Completely new endeavor? Um, so I was kind of roped into it. Um, as I've told Beth many times that I was not looking forward to the, the running group. Um, however, as , uh , so I came up along where Beth was gonna be the instructor for the running group. I was gonna be kind of the , the veteran plus the, the , a counselor just in case something went wrong to be able to , to help out in that way. And , uh , Beth invited me to go ahead and write and participate. Um, and I did, and it , uh , it was very helpful for me for my own personal journey, but I've witnessed how it's been impactful for my actual veterans that I worked with on the individual case and how the writing has been very beneficial for them there. Um, as well as the art side I've seen even, I haven't had as much input there, but I have actually seen pretty amazing testimonies of what have come out of just the veterans that I know who have gone to the art , uh , pro uh , program there for art for all.Speaker 1:
So, so you , you, you being a veteran who has , has personally seen creative writing in specific, but the arts you've seen you , you've personally experienced that as a, as a way to, to heal and, and to express yourself. Um, now Beth and Christie , I think maybe we'll go to Beth since she was mentioned next, are you a veteran? And if not, were you kind of surprised at the connection here? Cause I think, I think it sounds like Joe was surprised at the connection from the veteran end, Beth, were you surprised from the arts end that this was a match made in heaven?Speaker 5:
No. You know , no, no , but thank you. I'm not a veteran. And the Genesis really came out of, I have a big background in news television news. So I would go to get your story Adam or Christie's or Jill's or Joe's, but it would be all chopped up just because of time. Right. You watch the news and it's and I thought, well, what happens if people really had to say that they were the Genesis and the generator , um, of their own story and they had their own platform. So through a bunch of other training and really the Genesis was , um, was a , uh , a sister and a brother team. He worked with trauma , um , mm-hmm <affirmative> with people coming out of war and then she ha is running a very large event center out east and they came to share their own experience. Like you said, Adam, like that, the documentation of the science supporting what we've known for a long time, you know, what the arts actually do. So it wasn't, it was just, you know, working with Joe, having art center say, yes, let's do this. Let's make it happen. And then to trust the process and then to watch the vets write , or they were creating and then to have the stories come back. So it really did require an awful lot of trust though, you know , was it like a sure thing? It was like, oh, you hear about it. And the science is there, but how does it actually roll in and matter ? But yes, it absolutely backs all the science,Speaker 1:
You know, it , it it's it's, I couldn't help, but think that, so you may not know my undergrad education is in music and , uh, even during college for music, the music kids, especially the jazz kids, cuz we were all judgemental , everybody else. Uh, we, we were, <laugh> very , very , uh, what's the word I'm trying to find a good word. We thought the art, the , the arts therapy kids were weird. Okay. Like we, it was so misunderstood. It's such a misunderstood discipline that even K kids in the music department were like, yeah, I don't really know what that is, you know, and, or , or what that does or how, you know, and obviously now being older and understanding things more and seeing firsthand the healing power of the arts and how it can be used for a variety of people through a variety of disciplines, it's it's eyeopening. And , and I really wish that they did more to educate, you know, people as they're growing up that like art therapy, dance therapy, like all of those things are like legit practices. So , uh , Beth, do you find that , uh , overarchingly, you run a into barriers of resistance , uh , or , or , or speed bumps when it comes to implementing these programs? You said there had to be a lot of trust. Um, did you ever face kind of like a , I don't see how this is gonna do anything , uh , sort of reaction to what it is that you do?Speaker 5:
No, I mean, Adam, it's a great question. I have to say the it with arts for all. I did not run into that and that's why it works. That's why Christie's like smiling . She's like, yeah, they get it. They know what happens and Jill, a big supporter and the people that were there, even when I came on. So no, not for them, but yes it is Adam. It is. It's like , um , because people want a product, they want it in their hands. Right. Or they wanna say, I wanna take these steps to get to this thing. I want it solved. I don't really wanna go through a process. And all of this is a process and it takes time. There is an awakening that's coming, you know, because it can't be like, I remember in school they would call it big journalism. You know, it can't be big therapy , like the fast food solution of things. Right. I mean, that's, I remember that statement being made. It's not Nick anything. Yeah, really. And for the first time, I, I sense people saying, especially after the last two years to say, I want the time I need the gift of time and space to make sense out of everything and I'm gonna take it now. I don't want anything fast. It's been all too fast already. Right. So, but I do see it changing because you know, you know, you look at your own schooling and everybody on the screen, it's kind of like being pioneers. Is anybody gonna follow this thing? Or am I out chopping away all by myself? So there is, but I do see it change very open. Um, aimable cooperative and collaborative with arts for all though . It is, that was not a contestant anyway .Speaker 1:
That's excellent. You know, and , and the VA, especially, or really any veteran support mechanism , uh , as I'm sure Joe understands from , from working at a vet center here from serving veterans through a vet center , uh, a lot of times it can be that kind of assembly line therapy sort of thing. Like you need something. Okay. Here's pills and there's a therapist and check mark you've been taken care of when it's really, for some people that might work well for most people. It's probably a little more nuanced than that. And I'm, I'm so glad that we're getting away from the mic therapy , as you mentioned, Christy . Could , could you tell us about, and I , I'm sorry, I , I saved you for last here, but in, in what can you talk about what you do as a resident artist for, is , is that what it's called a resident artist ,Speaker 6:
Uh , teaching artist ,Speaker 1:
Teaching artist , mm-hmm <affirmative> for arts for all. And the impact that you've seen that make in the people who you serve.Speaker 6:
For sure. So I'm Christie grace . I'm not a veteran, but , um, I have veterans in the family and , uh , I've been working with arts for all, for about three years. And so I came in starting with the vets. And so what you mentioned before as like people perceive as robotic , um, you know, like I had that as a civilian coming into it. I was like, I don't know what to expect. Especially as a creative, you know, who is a , who's a little kooky , you know, like, but the first day , um, Joe was there and we, we just introduced each other and I observed, and then at the end I had one vet come and he is like, are you scared of us? I'm like, no, I'm not because of what I've experienced. Like just people, just people yep . Trying to live life. And so , um , just getting into that experience, a lot of what we went through was creating a relationship. So I think that's, that's huge with veterans. Like there there's loneliness around them in so many ways and to find a group of people looking for the same thing, you know, all from all different backgrounds, but coming together to make art, you know, it's not like I'm prying into their lives, trying to find, you know, the deepest darkest is like, let's make art together. That was the beginning. Yeah. Um , and so we generally picked a medium and then we learned how to do it and then would make art together and the conversation and relationships that happened around that central thing, just learning , um , is what is what really hugeSpeaker 1:
That's that's so cool. And , uh, Raymond Roberts hopped in here , uh , board member for the Wisconsin vets chamber, he said packed house today. You said it. Yeah, we got a , we got a panel of experts. I, I love it. Uh, Christie , when you're working with the veterans in, in the, in their, in their creating of art, do you notice that their healing is this gradual process or does it work up to a moment of kind of like realization that, that like, oh, I get it or, oh, I have expressed this thing and now I've to turn a page to a new chapter. Obviously the healing is never complete and we must be vigilant and , you know, and , and consistent and , uh , about all of that. But, but is it a gradual thing or have you seen that kind of like awakening?Speaker 6:
I feel it's both. So it's very gradual when people come in at first , um , most people like crumple up their art at the end and, and throw it away. And like, they'll even say something about it. Like the , the worth they feel, you know, in that artwork is, is very little. Um, but as we grow and as they learn, like, I'll hear some people say these art terms that they learned and I can feel the pride in them , just like, I know this, I am mastering it. And having that confidence is it's a huge thing. And so I think it's a mixture of like healing slowly as, as they come and feel supported and create something new. And then once in a while, it's like the aha moment when they , they voice that they've learned and conquered something. And I, I just, I feel that, and they , they take their work home or they give it to somebody or even allow it to be in different veterans shows. And so that growth, you know, I'm sure there's some wiggles along the way, but like , it's definitely upwards,Speaker 1:
Good stuff. We're gonna continue this in part two for conversation with the team over at arts for all Wisconsin , uh , that episode's already sitting there waiting for you . So we'll see you over there. Thank you for listening to Wisconsin veterans forward, brought to you by the Wisconsin veterans chamber of commerce. Please visit firstname.lastname@example.org . Don't forget to subscribe to this podcast, leave a rating and review in whatever platform you're listening you through .