CreatiVets is a non-profit veteran arts service organization serving veterans of all branches of the armed forces, with a focus on post-traumatic stress (PTS) and traumatic brain injury (TBI).
Through a variety of art forms, CreatiVets offers mental health treatment for veterans who are often resistant to traditional forms of therapy. Each of our programs show veterans how they can use art to confront their trauma and express themselves in new ways. We provide participants with the tools needed to share unique personal experiences with their family, friends, and community. By learning these new skills, they can reduce the effects of PTS, stress, anxiety, and depression, and improve their everyday lives.
Creative art forms like those offered by the CreatiVets’ programs have shown tremendous effectiveness in reducing PTS/TBI symptoms and improving the quality of life for veterans and their family members.
Many veterans have been unable to get the help they need, have been unsuccessful in their efforts to get help, or have not sought help due to the stigma associated with mental health issues. While CreatiVets does NOT claim to provide professional “treatment” or art and music “therapy,” CreatiVets DOES offer an alternative approach to individual self-expression through art and music education for combat veterans—the therapeutic benefits are a welcome bonus.
CreatiVets does not require an official or medical diagnosis of PTSD for veterans to be
considered for participation.
We currently offer programs in two categories: Music/Songwriting and Visual Art. Each
CreatiVets program focuses on storytelling through the arts as a way to recover from
traumatic experiences, to promote healing, and to provide tools that the veterans can use in combating stress, depression, and other effects of war. All expenses related to these programs are included at no cost to the veteran. CreatiVets covers the costs of all travel, transportation, meals, and lodging, etc. so that all veterans (regardless of ability to pay) may participate.
Music & Songwriting Programs
Research has shown that trauma survivors benefit from musical improvisation, telling stories, and songwriting with those who have been through similar experiences and “understand” them. Veterans who participate in the CreatiVets music and songwriting
programs have a unique opportunity to work with professional songwriters and musicians, alongside fellow veterans, while learning to use music to “hear” one another and connect.
CreatiVets’ music programs are hosted from our Veteran Community Center in Nashville, Tennessee. Each program begins when a veteran meets a designated mentor or “Battle Buddy.” This “Battle Buddy,” is a veteran who has already completed the program and is there to help the new participant feel comfortable throughout the entire process. The veterans are then paired with accomplished, professional songwriters and musician volunteers who help the participant use music and song to creatively express their story. Throughout the program, CreatiVets provides veterans with a “behind the scenes” view of the Nashville music industry. At the end of the program, the veteran will have finished a song that uniquely represents and expresses their personal story which they can share with family and friends. Following the program, CreatiVets staff and mentors continue to follow up with the veteran to assist them along their healing journey.
Follow-up and Additional Programs Include:
• Guitar lessons
• Songwriting programs in partnership with the Country Music Hall of Fame
• Virtual music programs
• Community programs
Artistic expression is particularly effective in relieving the symptoms associated with posttraumatic stress because it offers a sensory means of expressing traumatic memories, but does not require verbal expression, which so many veterans resist and avoid.
CreatiVets’ Introduction to Art for Wounded Veterans is an immersive, three-week art program that teaches combat veterans struggling with post-traumatic stress or traumatic brain injury to use concept-based art to tell their stories. The course introduces veterans to the college experience in an allveteran environment that makes them feel comfortable and enables them to see their own capacity for success in an educational environment. Each class consists of up to 12 enrollees and is facilitated by combat veteran alumni and other top art instructors. Using various mediums, including ceramics, painting, photography, woodworking, and digital media veterans learn new means of expression.
Veterans who graduate receive college credit and alumni status at the university where they attended their program. At the end of the program, each veterans’ artwork is featured in a gallery showing and is also featured in an exhibit at the National Veterans Art Museum. Says Casper, “The change we see in veterans who go through the program is really incredible. Once they discover art, it’s like they realize, ‘I may not have words to describe what I went through, but I have this…I have this piece of art,’ and that piece of art represents something which can help them start a conversation with their family or their friends.”
Additional art programs include:
• “Art in a box” classes
• Online and virtual art programs
• Live streaming art instruction
• Community programs
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