National Salute to Veteran Patients Week is a long-standing VA tradition in which members of the community and VA employees come together to show gratitude to Veteran patients.
While events of the past two years have not allowed leaders and staff at Central Virginia VA to show their full appreciation, in 2022 the facility is excited to unveil a large mural dedicated to Veterans.
The mural, titled “The Journey of a Veteran,” is the work of two Richmond artists: Ed Trask and Jason Ford. It highlights five Veterans from the local community.
“I wanted to bring a mural that would bring a sense of optimism,” Trask said. “I wasn’t sure at first. I was kind of scared about not representing Veterans well.”
Any fears the artists may have had dissolved quickly after sitting down and having a conversation with the Veterans, learning about their experience and history, while soaking in their personality and mannerisms.
Jason Ford (left) and Ed Trask pause from working on the mural, “The Journey of a Veteran.”
“Amazing to hear their resolve”
“Once you pull back the layers and see who they were and how they are doing today, it was amazing to hear about their resolve,” Ford said.
The mural features each Veteran twice: a current depiction and an image of them from their service. Ford said he hopes their work brings some additional life to the space.
“My father was in the Navy,” Ford explained. “After the opportunity to speak with the Veterans, I went back to my father to ask him some questions about his service.”
Trask said he hopes the mural honors the people, shows their stories and acts as a symbol of Veteran lifestyle.
Trask, originally from Loudon County, Virginia, studied painting and printmaking at Virginia Commonwealth University. In 1995, he moved back to Richmond after a few years on tour with a punk rock band. It was then he began painting murals around the city.
Intriguing to see Veterans’ selfless approach
“I wanted to make a difference with murals,” Trask said. “Murals can give a sense of identity to a neighborhood.”
Ford, born and raised in Richmond, has painted for the past 20 years and worked on large murals for the last eight years.
“Veterans have such a selfless approach,” Ford said. “That was intriguing to see. Sometimes, the greatest treasures come from what I learn from the subjects.”
Thanks to Community Foundation for a Greater Richmond, along with a corporate partner, for working with the hospital’s Center for Development and Civic Engagement department to make this mural possible.