What We Do
Creative Forces: NEA Military Healing Arts Network seeks to improve the health, wellness, and quality of life of trauma-exposed military service members and veterans, as well as their families and caregivers, by increasing knowledge of and access to clinical creative arts therapies and community arts engagement.
The program places creative arts therapies at the core of patient-centered care at clinical sites throughout the country, including telehealth programming, and increases access to community arts activities to promote health, wellness and quality of life for military service members, veterans, and their families and caregivers. Creative Forces is managed in partnership with Americans for the Arts and the Henry M. Jackson Foundation for the Advancement of Military Medicine.
Evolution of a Learning Endeavor
Since 2012, the National Endowment for the Arts has partnered with the Department of Defense and subsequently Veterans Affairs to support creative arts therapies for service members and veterans in military medical facilities. The network has expanded to include community arts programming in the selected Community Connection sites.
Creative Forces operates as a learning network built around achieving improved health outcomes for military-connected individuals and the communities where they live through a four-step process of guiding principles articulated below:
1. Discovery: We embrace a culture of learning and innovation, one that builds on the audacious nature of Creative Forces and seeks to boldly explore how we will continue to evolve, expand our reach, and impact lives and communities.
2. Empowerment: We seek to engage, empower, and unleash the creative talents of our network (artists, clinicians, arts organizations, community leaders, policy makers) and those it serves (military service members, veterans, families, and caregivers).
3. Service: Creative Forces is committed to serving a higher purpose and will deliver services throughout the network with respect and honor; we will be responsive and relevant.
4. Collaboration: Creative Forces recognizes that success is dependent upon leveraging the talents and resources of the entire network; we are part of something big; we value and seek to cultivate a community with shared goals, passion, commitment and esprit de corps.
CREATIVE FORCES NETWORK
We are building a national network of care and support for trauma-exposed active duty service members, veterans, and their families and caregivers, in medical treatment or transitioning back home to their bases and communities.
The program has three components:
- CLINICAL—Creative Forces is placing creative arts therapies at the core of patient-centered care at military medical facilities, as well as a telehealth program for patients in rural and remote areas. In clinical settings, creative arts therapists provide art, music, and dance/movement therapies, as well as creative writing instruction, for military patients and veterans.
- COMMUNITY—Creative Forces provides increased community-based arts opportunities for military and veteran family populations around clinical site locations. These networks will extend support for current and former creative arts therapies patients and their families as they transition from treatment in a clinical setting to arts programming in their community.
- CAPACITY—Creative Forces invests in capacity-building efforts, including the development of toolkits, training materials, and other resources to support best practices in serving the target populations. In addition, Creative Forces is investing in research on the impacts and benefits—physical, emotional, economic—of these innovative treatment methods.
The impacts of the healing arts are highly personal. The benefits of building community and expressing creativity are seen every day in the improved well-being of our participants. Full Veteran Voices' Stories can be experienced from the Arts Endowment collection.
I can state unequivocally that art therapy has helped me to be a better human, husband, father, and friend. I can also state unequivocally that art therapy has helped save my life.”- Christopher Stowe
I used music to bypass the injured sections of my brain and to stimulate other pathways in my healing process.”- Michael Schneider
Art has many forms from painting to sculpting as well as blacksmithing and forging steel…treatment takes many forms as well. Art can bridge that gap.”- Michael Rodriguez
Art and music are very soothing activities which keep our minds and hands busy, thus relieving some tension and allowing us to open up to some other topics.”- Marcie McCammond
Music provides a buffer zone where I can feel more comfortable sharing things with others that are difficult to discuss in conversation.”- Anthony Mannino
My passion for music from before my injury helped me find my words more readily over time. Through music therapy I was able to express my feelings of frustration, love, and thankfulness for the life that was my new normal."- Andrew Bell