Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 2, 2009

By Susan Shinn
Salisbury Post
Calling all veterans: The VA wants you ó to participate in its inaugural creative arts festival.
For the first time, the Hefner VA Medical Center is participating in the National Veterans Creative Arts Festival.
All veterans who receive inpatient or outpatient services from the facility are eligible to take part.
With 245 patients and 60,000 outpatients, the potential for participation could be huge, organizers agree.
The competition is divided into five areas: art, creative writing, dance, drama and music.
Art might include painting, drawing, sculpture, photography, ceramics, woodcarving, needlework and craft kits.
Local winners will advance to the national level.
Deadline for entries for the arts and creative writing categories is 4:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 29. Judging will be done March 1.
Winning entries will be on display on March 8, during the dance, drama and music division competition.
Organizers are excited about the event, although they admit they’re not sure what to expect as far as how many veterans will be involved.
“It’s a form of self-expression, bringing out their creativity and increasing their quality of life,” says Aleashia Brandon, supervisor of recreational therapy.
Sponsoring and supporting the effort is the American Legion Auxiliary of North Carolina.
Auxiliary members Jo Holshouser and Martha Corriher agree that such an experience can be life-changing for veterans.
Corriher notes, “We have to start somewhere. We want to get the community involved.”
“We know the talent is here,” Holshouser says.
Auxiliary members are seeking sponsorship and cash prizes for the contest.
“Jo and I are asking for it, the hospital is not asking for it,” Corriher points out. “Any help we can get through the community would be greatly appreciated. We have so many talented veterans. We want them showcased. The vets are our American Idols.”
Perry notes that the Salisbury VA facility is third in the nation in growth.
“It could be overwhelming,” Corriher says of participation, but says they’ll be ready.
“We’re excited to see what this is going to bring to our VA,” Brandon says. “We look forward to serving the veterans in this program.”
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For more information about the National Veterans Creative Arts Festival or for an application, call Aleashia Brandon at 704-638-9000 ex. 3460.
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Contact Susan Shinn at 704-797-4289 or sshinn@salisburypost.com.

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