All veterans deserve to be celebrated, and the American Legion Auxiliary volunteers at the Syracuse Veterans Creative Arts Festival in New York make this a top priority year after year.
The event hosts dozens of local veterans in a creative competition and celebration, and, since 2014, the festival organizers have relied on the support of the American Legion Auxiliary Foundation Veterans Creative Arts Festival grants to enhance and promote the program.
Their 2020 festival featured 75 veterans who entered the competition with mediums including creative writing, painting, drama, and music. Art therapy has long been used to alleviate suffering in veterans who struggle with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, anxiety, or other mental illnesses.
Veterans Creative Arts Festivals are meant to celebrate the end product of therapeutic artist expression. In Syracuse, the unique talents of these veterans were put on center stage and were well received by all who attended.
“I had no idea that there were this many talented and artistic veterans in our VA,” said one audience member.
Where the ALA Foundation’s impact was really felt was in the veterans’ experience. The $1,600 grant was used to purchase veteran recognition materials, which made the experience all the more special for participants. They also had lanyards made for all veterans and were able to hire a photographer to send photos of finalist art pieces to be considered for the National Veterans Creative Arts Festival.
Patricia Murphy, VA Voluntary Services Representative, said the entire show would not be possible without the American Legion Auxiliary Foundation grant.
“The support of the American Legion Auxiliary was fantastic, much appreciated, and the memorabilia given to us was really nice,” said one participant.
Volunteers went above and beyond to celebrate the veterans’ work by collaborating with a local TV station, as well as working with the nearby Everson Museum to showcase the veterans’ art in a special exhibit.
“I really enjoyed the show and loved being recognized with my artwork and musical endeavors,” said another veteran.
You can support other Veterans Creative Arts Festivals through a gift to the American Legion Auxiliary Foundation’s VCAF fund today. Go to www.ALAFoundation.org/Donate to make a difference.