During the annual Veterans Creative Arts Festival in Syracuse, New York, dozens of veterans had the opportunity to display their music, drama, and creative writing talents before an audience at the Syracuse VA Medical Center.

Thanks to a $1,500 Veterans Creative Arts Festival grant from the American Legion Auxiliary Foundation, veterans taking part in the festival were able to take home some keepsake gifts.

With the help of the grant, the recreation therapy department was able to gift all participants with a knitted cap and framed certificate, both bearing the VCAF logo. Many veterans also received a specialized wireless audio speaker with the creative arts logo embedded on it.

“We have been hosting the creative arts competition at the Syracuse VA for over 20 years,” said Suzanne Hawes, Lead Recreational therapist.

Hawes said the opportunity to provide a creative arts competition for the veterans is a major focus for the VA and the department. “We pride ourselves with developing a strong relationship with each of the veteran participants and to have them compete on a yearly basis is a positive compliment to this program.”

“I have been competing in this program for years and it just keeps getting better,” one veteran said.

During the closing remarks at the Syracuse Veterans Creative Arts Festival, each American Legion Auxiliary member was personally thanked for their dedication and commitment to the program.

This is one of the many local events that feeds into the National Veterans Creative Arts Festival, co-presented by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and the American Legion Auxiliary. Learn more information about the National Veterans Creative Arts Festival at https://www.blogs.va.gov/nvspse/national-veterans-creative-arts-festival/