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A man playing a saxophone on stage. Painting of a hand cupped around a tiny infant. Vibrantly colored painting of geometric renderings of faces. A woman sculpting a bust out of clay. Close-up of a painting of a human eye in shades of black, red and orange. A woman performing in a play on stage. A young boy smiling at a hand puppet. An exuberant group of participants in the Actual Lives program. A young boy participating in the Arts Alive program. Painting with white and blue hair-like strokes on a background of deep turquoise. Man in a wheelchair viewing artwork in a gallery. Blind artist standing in front of his work. Group of women performing with colored scarves. Man speaking into a microphone with open captioning on a large screen behind him. Group of young students playing a musical game with the teacher.

Programs - Veteran Services

VSA Texas started services specifically for veterans with disabilities/wounded warriors in 2009. We host an annual exhibition of veterans artwork and provide opportunities year-round for artists to get involved with our Artworks: Creative Industries professional development program. We also work with arts organizations statewide to forge partnerships with vet organizations to provide art programs for veterans and military families.

The arts are important to veterans because for many returning military personnel it is a way to express all that they saw, heard, and experienced during war. It is also important to civilians to understand what our veterans have been through and to open pathways of communication.

Funding for the 2018/19 Distinguished Artist Veterans program of VSA Texas is funded by the Texas Commission on the Arts.

Opportunities for Creative Veterans


Create Your Story!
A Writing & Art Workshop for Veterans

Hosted by VSA Texas and the Austin VA Outpatient Clinic

Held at the Austin VA Outpatient Clinic, Room 2B-148

Six Week Class: Sept 14 - Oct 19, 2018
Fridays 1:00-3:00 pm
Instructor: Elizabeth Decker
FREE! Register by calling 512-454-9912 or email April Sullivan

Space is limited. Any experience level welcome.

Express your story with powerful words and bold colors! Reflect, create and connect to your personal story through freestyle, stream of conscious style writing exercises. Each week you will focus on a different theme and have a piece of writing and a piece of art at the end of each session. Participants will have the option to have their work published with other veteran writers in Summer 2019. Open to all veterans served by the Austin VA Outpatient Clinic. Supplies will be provided.

Elizabeth Decker is a celebrated artist, author, poet, teacher, documentary filmmaker, The No Show, certified Mediator, Clay Coach at Spellbound Publishing and personal creative story guide. Her work is about helping others remove blocks that hold them back and passionately move forward rediscovering and redefining who they are. Her popular workshops are booked in Austin, LA, and NYC. She has been a guest speaker for the Episcopalian Veterans Fellowship and her illustrated book of prose, The Melancholy Girls, has helped inspire others to create and share their honest story of self. Find more about Elizabeth at

Call for Art

The Re-Integration Project {Words}

We hosted six 6-week writing classes in Fall 2017/Spring 2018 in Austin and Temple, TX. Through these classes we printed The Re-Integration Project publication, over 100 pages of veteran written poems, short stories, and screenplays. Download a PDF file of the book here.

The Re-Integration Project {Sounds} 2017

Consists of 8 songs by 6 veteran songwriters and musicians. Three of the songs are directly inspired by writings from the publication.
Absence Inside by David A. Romero is inspired by Barbara A. Malone-Verduin’s short story The Absence Inside
Tornado of Love by Glenn Towery is inspired by Douglas Meredith’s short story It Was Over
The Gathering by Rod Sigler is inspired by Kristine Tidwell’s poem The Gathering

Download this compilation here.

The Re-Integration Project {Visuals} 2017

An exhibition of 20 works of art by 14 veterans inspired by the writings. For purchase information about any of the artwork, please contact April Sullivan or call 512-454-9912.

Light Box
Salina Loriaux
US Army, 2004-2007, OIF
Mixed media
in response to A Fraction of a Percent by Ray Bellon

Grandson Isaac’s Hands with Totems
Colin Scott
US Navy, 1987-1993, Desert Storm, US Army, 1995-2011
Acrylic & Assemblage on Synthetic Fiber
in response to Granny Hart’s Feet by John I. Hart

How to Be a Slam Poet (I Hate Fish Tacos)
Douglas Meredith
US Navy, 1975-79, Cold War
Mixed media
in response to How to Be a Slam Poet by Erika Land

Heart Energy
Katrina Raetzer
US Army, 1981-2003, Panama
Mixed media: epoxy, acrylic, copper, glass
in response to Creator Sun by Douglas Meredith

Cherry Blossoms 2: The Gathering
James Thornton
US Coast Guard, Gulf War Era
Oil on canvas
in response to The Gathering by Kristine Tidwell

Christopher Van Loan Sr.
US Army, 1982-1987
Acrylic on canvas
in response to Silk Perfection by Kristine Tidwell

Desert Twilight
Mary Ishler
US Army, 1972-73, Vietnam Era
Ink on panel
in response to The Desert by Judy Smith

Desert Roses
Mary Ishler
US Army, 1972-73, Vietnam Era
Ink on tile
in response to The Desert by Judy Smith

Hang On and Climb
Mary Ishler
US Army, 1972-73, Vietnam Era
Watercolor (Gouache) & Neon Crayon
in response to The Desert by Judy Smith

Elysium’s Gate
Faith C. O’Gilbert
US Army, 1986-1990
in response to Gratitude by Barbara A. Malone-Verduin

Spark of Motivation
Glenn Towery
US Navy, 1971-72, Vietnam
Oil on Wood
NFS (prints available)
in response to Sparks of Motivation by Barbara A. Malone-Verduin

Fawn (Love Your Mother Earth)
Mary Ishler
US Army, 1972-73, Vietnam Era
Watercolor on linen paper
in response to Super Fawn by Ray Bellon

The Odd Couple
Valerie A. Short
US Navy, 1978-1999
Gel Pen & Markers
in response to Club-Footed Frankenstein by Perry Jefferies

Meet Me at the Sombrero
John Lawrence
US Navy, 1994-97, Desert Shield
in response to his fictional short story Meet Me at the Sombrero

Meet Me at the Sombrero (Codewords)
Douglas Meredith
US Navy, 1975-79, Cold War
Mixed media (interactive)
in response to Meet Me at the Sombrero by John Lawrence

Perry Jefferies
US Army, 1979-2004, Iraq
DSLR Photography
in response to The Fall of ’85 by Andrew Mellon

Connections…For Us All
Denise Knebel
US Air Force, 1981-2004, Desert Storm, OEF/OIF
Acrylic on canvas
in response to Terminal by Thomas Orlando

The Absence Inside
Judy King
US Air Force, 1975-1979, Cold War
Acrylic on canvas
in response to The Absence Inside by Barbara A. Malone-Verduin

Going Home
Douglas Meredith
US Navy, 1975-79, Cold War
Mixed Media
in response to his song Going Home

Funding for the 2017 Distinguished Artist Veterans programs of VSA Texas are provided by the Texas Commission on the Arts and a Quality of Life grant from the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation.

Distinguished Artist Veterans: Working with Military Families in Texas

Based on our research in partnership with the Texas Commission on the Arts, we have found there is a growing need for arts related services for Texas veterans and military personnel in our communities. If you are an arts organization interested in learning more about providing art programs for veterans, examples of successful programs, and trainings on working with veterans and military families, please contact us. Download the Brochure Here

Looking for ways to connect with veterans in your area? Meet a peer specialist in your community through Visit Bring Everyone in the Zone.

Summary Reports from the National Initiative for Arts and Health in the Military

A National Action Plan is being developed that will ensure the availability of arts interventions for our service men and women and their families, and integrate the arts as part of the “Standard of Care” in military clinical as well as programs in community settings across the country. Read these three reports to find out what is happening around the US on this topic.

Download Report #1

Download Report #2

Download Report #3

Veterans and the Arts: A Compilation of Resources

Thanks to funding from the National Arts and Disability Center and the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation we have developed a map and spreadsheet highlighting veteran specific arts programs happening all over the United States. Download the Resource and the Map Here

The Americans for the Arts is also working to compile a complete directory of individuals and organizations that support or provide programs and services, or information and resources in or about the arts for military service members, veterans and their families. View the National Initiative for Arts and Health in the Military Network Directory.

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