Barna, 92, avid writer and fisherman

VA medical facilities use the creative arts as one form of rehabilitative treatment to help Veterans recover from and cope with physical and emotional disabilities.

Across the country each year, Veterans enrolled at VA health care facilities compete in a local creative arts competition. The competition includes categories in the visual arts division that range from oil painting to leatherwork to paint-by-number kits.

In addition, there are categories in writing as well as the performing arts of dance, drama and music. You can watch the stage show performance live on Sunday, April 24, 2 p.m. here.

Local creative arts competition first place winning entries advance to a national judging process. Selected gold medalist Veterans are invited to attend the National Veterans Creative Arts Festival hosted by a different VA facility each year.

First place winners of the 2021 competition will be recognized at the 41st National Veterans Creative Arts Festival in St. Petersburg, Florida, April 20 through 25. This year’s event is being hosted by the Bay Pines VA.

Here are a few participants:

Marine Corps Veteran Joseph Barna, Writer – Wilkes-Barre VA

Peacocks and Magnolias by Annie Margarita

“Barely a day goes by that I do not write something,” Barna said. “Writing allows me to say what is inside and maybe share with others. The creative arts give you a way to let out good and bad feelings and deal with them. The arts also give us a way to share our common experiences even if we cannot directly talk about them.

“After speaking with a VA Therapist, who encouraged me to write about my experiences in the Korean War and adjusting afterwards, I started to share my writing with others.

“I first entered the Creative Arts Competition in 2018. I guess someone likes my writings since I have won 4 National Gold Medals.”

Wounded Warrior by Lesley Mose

Marine Corps Veteran Annie Margarita, Visual Artist – Roseburg VA

Marine Corps Veteran Annie Margarita has two winning pieces. “Being able to sit and concentrate on my art and fly-fishing has helped me to relax and step away from my busy life,” she said. “Completing each piece gives me a sense of accomplishment.”

Army Veteran Lesley Mose, Visual Artist – Richmond VA

“The Creative Arts allows me to feel like I still have a way to contribute to society even when my mind feels scrambled or cluttered,” Mose said. “It gives me a way to create and share with others and makes me feel happy and whole. The creative arts started me on a road to healing and saved my life.

“I started crocheting when it was suggested as a means to overcome my hypervigilance and other PTSD symptoms. Now I use it to help others who are battling similar symptoms and also help to create things that bring comfort to those who are struggling.”

By Hans Petersen is senior writer/editor for Digital Media, VHA Office of Communications. An Air Force Veteran, Hans also served two years in the Peace Corps and worked for 20 years in broadcasting before joining VA.

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Published on Apr. 20, 2022

Estimated reading time is 2.5 min.

Views to date: 435


  1. Laura Postell April 25, 2022 at 6:25 am

    Very inspiring and good!!!

  2. Scott Beaver April 22, 2022 at 3:43 pm

    Please consider entrees from members of Freedom Quilters at the Floyd C Lindstrom Clinic.

  3. Jeffery Davis April 20, 2022 at 4:22 pm

    I am a Veteran and an artist and would like information on entering into and participating in these events in the future. I would like info on that please.

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