Highlights from the 2019 National Veterans Creative Arts Festival

Highlights from the 2019 National Veterans Creative Arts Festival


Art brings me to the “here and now.” It takes away my anxiety. It just makes me feel good. It feels like I’m putting myself out there. Art gives you an avenue to kind of, release so of your energies, to participate with people. It’s just, you know, kind of a great therapy for us. It’s just something positive to look forward to all the time. It’s healing, and when you’re going through things, it keeps your mind from wandering back to the pain that you’re going through. It’s an escape, and people get to your art, and it’s nice to have people really appreciate what you do and what it takes as a Veteran that’s injured, to do the art. It’s a calming effect in my life. I write because it’s a calming thing. It gives you something to think about instead of thinking about cancer. So, you have to concentrate. When you’re concentrating on what you’re writing, you’re not concentrating on what the hell Agent Orange did to you. If you have mental health or a traumatic brain injury, it will help free a space and push that negativity aside and give you a positive outlook. Avoidance is very big in PTSD. So, I decided to rename PTSD and I call it, “Put the Symptoms Down.” And that’s the therapeutic part of it. When you start to look at objects differently, You can start to look at your thoughts differently. And I never thought of it as artwork. It’s just therapeutic for me. You can become part of the creative arts program by supporting the creative artists, whatever they do. If you’re not artistic, it doesn’t mean you can’t participate. You can go. You can see the shows. You know, you can help your buddy. If you are a creative artist, If you’re a creative person, I would encourage you to channel your anger, your PTS, whatever it is you have going on, channel that into your art. You know, make that your escape. When I do my art, I like to take my inspiration from things that go on in life. That’s how I unload these emotional things. I use the art to mainline into whatever is in mind. It will enrich your life. It will enhance your experiences by meeting other Veterans. I think that’s what it is, a Veteran to Veteran experience. I tell everybody about the creative arts festival. If you have any kind of hobbies or interests, there is a place for you to compete or enter. It builds community and I met new friends this year, people that have the same afflictions I do. It makes you feel like you’re not alone. We, as a family of Veterans, need to go ahead and take advantage of it. Go see your arts building or music therapy building and just get involved. It’s a beautiful experience. When people put on a uniform, we all look the same. But we’re not the same. There are people in the military that are just as talented as people in the outside. Whether it be music, dance, visual arts, writing, acting, it’s there for you. It’s a gift. Share it. Share your gift of artistic talent in this format, in this festival. And give it to the world.

Dereck Turner

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