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A collaboration between AFTA's National Initiative on Arts & Health and the Military and the Local Arts Advancement departments, Arts Deployed is a guide for arts organizations and artists interested in bringing creative arts programming to military and Veteran communities, their caregivers, and families. The guide helps local arts organizations and artists understand their unique roles in serving the military and Veteran communities; details the expansive benefits the arts have on the health and well-being of these communities; and lays the groundwork—step-by-step, from establishing fruitful partnerships with the military and Veteran sector, through funding and promotion—for arts organizations and artists to build their own creative arts initiative for their local military and/or Veteran communities. Arts Deployed also breaks down three current program models—The Veterans History Project, The National Veterans Creative Arts Festival, and the Living History Veterans Project—so that these programs can be replicated in any community. Rich with examples of current local arts programming throughout the U.S. —including The Oklahoma Arts and Military Initiative, California Arts Council's Veterans Initiative in the Arts, and Colorado's Fine Arts Center's Military & the Arts Program, among others—Arts Deployed also offers a directory of arts and military national touring performances, exhibitions, and writing workshops that can be brought to any community. Arts Deployed honors the highly effective and robust arts and military programs that exist all across the country and seeks to help close a critical gap, as the demand for these services far exceeds their number. With the proper motivation, training, connection to information and resources, and access to partners in the military and Veteran communities, local arts organizations and artists can make a powerful difference.
This paper details a series of recommendations in the areas of research, practice, and policy that came out of two national convenings. The convening were The Arts and Health in the Military National Roundtable (November 2012) and the National Summit: Arts, Health, and Well-Being Across the Military Continuum.
Is there an active, meaningful role for the arts and creative arts therapies in addressing this vast array of critical human readiness issues across the military continuum? In general, "readiness" is the #1 issue for the military at all times. The connection of the arts to the human dimension of readiness is key. Military leaders say we need every weapon in our arsenal to meet the many challenges we face today. However, one of the most powerful tools we have in our arsenal -- the arts -- is often under-utilized and not well understood within the military and the healthcare system. The arts and creative arts therapists are -- and have been -- a part of military tradition and missions across all branches, supporting military health services, wellness, and mission readiness, including family support. For example, the War Department ordered the use of music in rehabilitation for the war wounded in World War II. In June 1945, the Department of War issued "Technical Bulletin 187: Music in Reconditioning in American Service Convalescent and General Hospitals." This bulletin was a catalyst for the growth and development of music therapy being used as a rehabilitative service for active duty service members and veterans alike during and after WWII. Although many gaps exist in our knowledge regarding the arts in military settings, what we do know to date holds great promise for powerful outcomes for our service members, veterans, their families, and the individuals who care for them. Today, a growing number of members of the public and private sectors are eager to collaborate with military leaders to help make these outcomes a reality.Nowhere was the momentum for greater collaboration more evident than in October 2011, when the first National Summit: Arts in Healing for Warriors was held at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center (now referred to as Walter Reed Bethesda) and the National Intrepid Center of Excellence (NICoE). Rear Admiral Alton L. Stocks, Commander of Walter Reed Bethesda, hosted the National Summit, in partnership with a national planning group of military, government, and nonprofit leaders. The 2011 Summit marked the first time various branches of the military collaborated with civilian agencies to discuss how engaging with the arts provides opportunities to meet the key health issues our military faces -- from pre-deployment to deployment to homecoming.Building upon its success, a multi-year National Initiative for Arts & Health in the Military was established in 2012, with the advice and guidance of federal agency, military, nonprofit, and private sector partners (see Figure 2). The National Initiative for Arts & Health in the Military (National Initiative) represents an unprecedented military/civilian collaborative effort whose mission is to "advance the arts in health, healing, and healthcare for military service members, veterans, their families, and caregivers."Members of the National Initiative share a commitment to optimize health and wellness, with a deep understanding and awareness that the arts offer a unique and powerful doorway into healing in ways that many conventional medical approaches do not. The Initiative's goals include working across military, government, private, and nonprofit sectors to: 1. Advance the policy, practice, and quality use of arts and creativity as tools for health in the military; 2. Raise visibility, understanding, and support of arts and health in the military; and 3. Make the arts as tools for health available to all active duty military, medical staff, family members, and veterans.
On November 15, 2012, a group of concerned and dedicated military, government, private sector and nonprofit leaders gathered at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC for the Arts & Health in the Military National Roundtable.The Roundtable represents the second step in the ongoing development of the multi-year National Initiative for Arts & Health in the Military. The National Initiative was launched in January, 2012 based upon the groundbreaking success of the first National Summit: Arts in Healing for Warriors, held in October 2011 at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center (WRNMMC) and the National Intrepid Center of Excellence (NICoE). The 2011 Summit marked the first time various branches of the military collaborated with civilian agencies to discuss how engaging with the arts provide opportunities to meet the key health issues our military faces -- from pre-deployment to deployment to homecoming. We present this summary report and its recommendations for a "Blueprint for Action" with the intention to open the door for a national conversation and the development of a National Action Plan. What actions and strategies will be necessary over the next several years in order to expand the use of the arts and creative arts therapies across the military continuum: from the military service pre-deployment, deployment, post-deployment to veterans as well as families and caregivers? For the first time, this question is being addressed across military, government, and nonprofit sectors -- and with a sense of urgency that now is the time to get something done.