This time of year, it is traditional to count your blessings and acknowledge that many among us; new immigrants, the homeless, the hungry; are not as fortunate. It’s also a time when we are called to act on the compassion we feel for our fellow humans and thank those who sacrifice on our behalf.
The Baltimore based Institute for Integrative Health has developed Vet Arts Connect to relieve the suffering and support the well-being of Maryland military veterans by advancing opportunities for them to experience nature and the creative arts—activities that ease symptoms of post-traumatic stress, traumatic brain injury, and depression. Where do the arts fit in? It has been demonstrated that creative arts therapies have helped service members deal with trauma as part of an integrated care model. When they return home, these interventions make a difference in people’s lives that medicine alone can not achieve. It is exciting to follow their work, especially their partnerships with the Maryland State Arts Council and GBCA member organizations including Baltimore Clayworks, Art with a Heart, Chesapeake Shakespeare Company, Baltimore Improv Group.
There is a critical need in our country to address the injuries suffered by veterans and the challenges they face returning to civilian life. According to the National Endowment for the Arts, an estimated 2.8 million people sustain a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) in the Unites States annually and eight million have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). More than 500,000 men and women of our armed services are living with TBI or PTSD including 10-20 percent of all service members currently deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan. TBI and PTSD are known to contribute to depression, and to the estimated 20 suicides committed by veterans each day.
Creative Forces: NEA Military Healing Arts Network is a partnership of the National Endowment for the Arts, the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs, and the state and local arts agencies that serve the special needs of military patients and veterans with TBI and psychological health conditions, as well as their families and caregivers.
Another related program, National Initiative for Arts & Health in the Military, at Americans for the Arts, advances the arts in healthcare, healing, and well-being for military service members, veterans, their families and caregivers. Working across military, government, private and non-profit sectors, the goals of the National Initiative are to: raise visibility, understanding, and support of arts and health in the military; advance the policy, practice, and quality use of arts and creativity as tools for health in the military; and make the arts as tools for health available to all active duty military, staff, family members, and veterans. What a great way to say. “Thank you for your service.”
I hope you plan to join the GBCA staff and over 150 members at the GBCA Holiday Happy Hour this Thursday, at the Isaac Meyers/Frederick Douglas Pavilion from 6 to 9 PM. We'll have food, drinks, art and giveaways! You can RSVP here.
All my best,
P.S. The countdown is on! The Baker Artist Portfolio site closes on December 17. Don’t miss your chance to be among the nearly 1,000 artists representing the Baltimore region. And don’t miss your chance to see the Baker Off the Web exhibition at the Peale Center, which also closes on December 17.