Veteran art & performance celebrated at VA Creative Arts Competition in OKC

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Photo provided by OKC VA Health Care System

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Metro veterans tapped into their artistic side for the National Veterans Creative Arts Competition.

Seventy-one veterans who are enrolled in the Oklahoma City VA Health Care System participated in the annual event last week.

“This arts and recreation event serves as a visual representation of a Veteran’s progress engaging in treatment through Therapeutic Recreation and Creative Arts Therapy,” said April Reynolds, Recreation Therapist. “While outsiders just see the art, Veterans see their improvement in many areas including social skills, community engagement, emotional regulation, and increased self-worth.”

Photo provided by OKC VA Health Care System

VA medical facilities across the nation meld therapy with art to enhance rehabilitation for both inpatients and outpatients, according to an OKC VA news release.

The competition both recognizes veterans’ therapeutic progress and gives their creative achievements greater exposure.

“When I am working on my art, I get to forget what caused my PTSD and that I have physical limitations,” Nadine Lewis, a veteran, is quoted as saying in the news release. “Also, I have made friends, who like me, look forward to the show every year and look forward to seeing each other.”

The event included visual arts categories – ranging from oil painting and leatherwork to paint-by-number kits and sculpture – and performing arts such as dance, drama, and music.

Photo provided by OKC VA Health Care System

More than 123 pieces of art were on display at the Health Care System. Fifty-one entries advanced to the national judging process. Gold-medal-winners will be invited to attend the National Veterans Creative Arts Festival in St. Petersburg, Florida, November 28 – December 5, 2020, the news release states.

“Each year, I hope my art makes it to the national level so I have a chance to go back to the national show,” said Lewis. “I enjoy the experience and see the friends I have made through the years.”

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