Accessibility Statement

Our Story

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.



Collage of photos on an American flag
A Soldier's Heart flag art by Suzan Wallace former Resident Artist at NC Community Connections Open Studio


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

Frequently Asked Question

Why focus on creative arts therapies?  



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