Year of the Veteran: Creativity, Healing, and Well-Being

 

The Institute for Integrative Health, the Maryland State Arts Council, and the Maryland State Department of Education are proud to officially announce a new learning opportunity for community members, artists, and educators with the new Veteran-Ready Community Arts Micro-Credential course, a new suite of competency-based professional learning courses for facilitators of creative classrooms geared toward veterans. 

This program is just one of several programs offered to a variety of community throughout Maryland such as early childhood, elementary, middle, and high school students. 

 

The Veteran Artists of Sticks & Stones

During this event featured the Sticks & Stones exhibition, a joint initiative of the Institute for Integrative Health, Vet Arts Connect, and New Day Campaign. This exhibit works to lift the stigma of trauma related to substance abuse and mental health. To coincide with the Institute's Micro-Credential announcement, this unique exhibit also featured the works of four veteran artists (profiles below) who found healing through artistic expression.

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Earman R. Branch
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Earman Branch was just preparing for high school graduation when he was drafted into the US Marine Corps to fight in the Vietnam War. After his 13-month tour, Earman grew angry about the war and the way returning veterans were treated. He struggled to find purpose and turned to art as an escape from real life. Today, Earman makes sculptures, take photographs, and writes poetry. 


A Poem from Earman Branch
US Marine Corps
Vietnam War 1966 - 1967
 
I am a Veteran from the Vietnam War.
When I was young I had no idea that I would be involved in that terrible war. No idea that my life would be so crazy.
It changed me much more than I can say.
I was born in Virginia... then drafted and sent to die.
As one person, it is hard to speak of that time, because I was far from alone... many more than I were sent off to die for our country.
Straight out of High School, we were just children. We were made to think they had our backs, but they lied to us.
So in the arts, I live because it is safer than the real world, where I have long felt I don't belong.
Being an artist has saved my life.
As a veteran among veterans, I belong.
As an artist among artists, I belong.
-Earman R. Branch

Jon Meadows

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Veteran Army Staff Sgt. Jon Meadows tells his unique story through visual art. In 2013, Jon suffered a frontal-lobe traumatic brain injury, which affected his vision, cognition, and fine motor skills. Shortly after returning home to Maryland, Jon explored his artistic side through The Art League's "IMP
art Program" based in Alexandria, Virginia. This program offers creative outlets for injured military personnel to experience the transformative nature of visual art to assist in their transition to health and wellness.


James Miller
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James Miller began experimenting with painting and sketching during his recovery from injuries sustained during an IED ambush near Tikrit, Iraq.  Through his hospitalization and post-surgery treatments, Miller used art as a way to express the emotional upheaval, PTSD, and physical pain he experienced during his transition. Today, James works exclusively through the Limp Goat Art Collective, a self-driven outsider art studio he founded in 2013. His works have traveled the extremes, from fine art and murals to “pop up” art galleries and graffiti. Miller works with mixed media, favoring acrylics, spray paints, and oil pastels.

ragtime
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As a US Marine, ragtime endured 13 months in some of the worst fighting in the Vietnam War. Learning of the falsehoods told about the war ripped at his soul, and in 1974, he had an epiphany as he stared at a stained glass window of Richard Nixon in a California bar: he decided to study to become a stained glass artist. It wasn't until 2006 that ragtime decided to combine his art with activism. For the Morgan Arts Council's art auction, he created a stained glass peace sign. After it sold ragtime launched a new project, 1000 Points of Peace. He would make stained glass peace signs until the Iraq War was over or he reached 1000. A local musician and theater friends connected ragtime with Common Ground where he began his current work supporting mentally and emotionally wounded younger veterans. Today, ragtime is a retired stained glass artist living in the mountains of Berkeley Springs, West Virginia, and cherishing his time as a grandfather.

Micro-Credential Program