Veterans Display Artistic Talents During Local Veterans Creative Arts Festival - Bay Pines VA Healthcare System
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Veterans Display Artistic Talents During Local Veterans Creative Arts Festival

March 31, 2017

BAY PINES, FL – Artistic talents were on display during the 18th annual Veterans Creative Arts Festival local competition at the C.W. Bill Young VA Medical Center last month.

The competition included 51 categories in the visual arts division that ranged from oil painting to leatherwork to paint-by-number kits. In addition, there were 100 categories in the performing arts pertaining to all aspects of music, dance, drama and creative writing.

“The purpose of this event is to showcase the arts as a healing modality for our Veterans,” said Erin Todd, Music Therapist, Bay Pines VA Healthcare System. “A lot of Veterans are dealing with PTSD, depression, physical ailments, mental health ailments…it runs the gamut…but all of them have found a way for art to be a meaningful activity in their lives and some have even used it to help with their rehab and recovery,” she said.

According to Todd, Veterans enrolled at VA health care facilities across the country compete in a local creative arts competition each year. Through a national judging process, first, second and third place entries in each category are determined. Select winners will be invited to attend the National Veterans Creative Arts Festival scheduled for October 23-29 in Buffalo, New York.

“I get great relief in painting,” explained George Avery, a World War II U.S. Army Veteran and multi-year participant in the Veterans Creative Arts Festival. “When you paint, it drives everything out of your mind and you have to concentrate on a very small area…it’s relaxing,” he said.

Nationwide, VA medical facilities use the creative arts as one form of rehab to help Veterans recover and cope with physical and emotional disabilities – like first year competitor and U.S. Marine Corps Veteran Kevin Forbes.

“Music therapy, for me, is very relaxing,” Forbes said. “It helps me gather my thoughts and deal with my daily stresses. The conversation that we have…our actual therapy…is very helpful. I tell [the therapy group] all the’s like I come to church because the group speaks to me.

To learn more about the National Veterans Creative Arts Festival, call 727-398-6661, extension 15884, or visit

About Bay Visions News Brief

Bay Visions News Brief is a video news product line developed by the Bay Pines VA Healthcare System Office of Public Affairs and Medical Media Services. The news videos complement Bay Visions - a quarterly magazine distributed to Veterans, family members, VA employees and Volunteers, members of the general public and other stakeholders.

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About the Bay Pines VA Healthcare System

The Bay Pines VAHCS is one of the nation’s leading VA healthcare systems, employing more than 4,000 medical professionals and support staff dedicated to providing the very best care to Veterans residing in southwest Florida. The organization is the fifth busiest VA health care system in the country in terms of patients served and is accredited by The Joint Commission, Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities, and several other nationally recognized accrediting organizations. The Bay Pines VAHCS operates nine facilities to include the main medical center located in Bay Pines and outpatient clinics located in Bradenton, Cape Coral, Naples, Palm Harbor, Port Charlotte, Sarasota, St. Petersburg, and Sebring. To learn more, please visit, like us on Facebook at, or follow us on Twitter at