National Veterans Creative Arts Competition

(Dept. Veterans Affairs photo)

Hey creative veterans, it's time to show off your artistic side!

Jonathan Kaupanger
January 16, 2018 - 1:56 pm

Attention uniquely talented veterans! The VA’s 2018 National Veterans Creative Arts Competition is underway now!

For specific division info, rules and descriptions, just contact the recreation/creative arts therapy or voluntary service department at the VA medical facility where you’re enrolled. All required forms must be completed and postmarked no later than March 23 if you plan on competing at the national level.

Creative arts is one of the many rehabilitative treatments used by the VA to help vets recover from and cope with physical and emotional disabilities. Each year, vets who are enrolled in the VA healthcare system are invited to compete in a creative arts competition. The contests start at a local level. Deadlines vary at each medical center, but most facilities hold the local competitions in February, so there’s still time for you to shine.

There are a few rules to follow for this competition. Things like, vets can only enter at one VA facility per year.  The facility should be where the veteran receives treatment and they have to work with a VA staff person from that facility.  The full list of rules can be found here.

There are 51 different categories you can enter for the visual arts section, which are separated into fine arts, applied arts and craft kits. Further more, medically sounding categories include Special Recognition- Physical Disability, Special Recognition-Mental Health Challenges and Military Combat Experience.  These categories focus on art that is used as specific therapy and includes a written narrative from the vet or a staff person that must come with the entry, along with a description of how the artwork relates to the veteran’s challenge or experience.

The art division, by far, has the most entries. Last year there were close to 1,700 for this alone.

The Music Division is separated into 45 categories including solos, groups and different musical styles. The Drama Division focuses on state presence, expressiveness and interpretation.  There are sections for comedy, poetry, mime, juggling, magic and puppetry.  Ballroom, tap, jazz and ballet are just some of the sections you can enter in the Dance Division.

From the local level, the top three entries in each category are sent to the national level. VA therapists are the national judges, who spend hours going through the entrees from each medical center.  All first place winners are invited to attend the National Veterans Creative Arts Festival. Going on since 1989, the Festival week is hosted by a different VA facility each year.  The public is invited to attend an exhibition of the first place winners as well.  You can view the 2017 first place winners here.