Dance partners and Veterans Flowers and James proudly wear their medals. They won third place with a country waltz.

Each year thousands of Veterans enroll at VA health care facilities across the country to compete in the National Veterans Creative Arts Competition.

Air Force Veteran Linda Flowers loves to dance and was excited to learn that she and dance partner, Army Veteran Ben James, won third place in the ballroom dance category.

“When I entered us into the competition, it was just for fun,” said Flowers. “I didn’t know if Ben would be able to do it because he stays busy, but I was excited when he said yes.”

Flowers and James have been dancing together since 2018, after they met at the American Legion.

“We clicked right away. I suggested we dance, he agreed, and we have been friends ever since! We just dance so easily together.”

First year to compete

This was the duos’ first year to compete in the competition, which had over 7,000 entries.

“I just found out about the competition this year and I think it’s wonderful,” said James. “It felt good to win. I never thought of myself as a good dancer, but I guess I did alright,” he said with a smile.

James has always loved to dance, but there was a time when he didn’t think he would ever be able to dance again due to a back injury and issues with his legs.

“VA took care of me.”

“I just want to thank VA for everything they have done,” said James. “I was on a cane for six or seven years, but my doctor at VA took care of me and that is the reason I can enjoy dancing again today. VA has been good to me, I can’t say enough.”

Deborah Moreno, recreation therapist, coordinates the entries for the Creative Arts Competition each year at the Muskogee VA and is always proud to see local Veterans place in the competition.

“Coming in third place nationwide speaks volumes. They deserve this. They worked for it and it is fabulous to see them be acknowledged for it.”

Flowers and James both say they would love to compete again in the future but until then they plan to keep on dancing.

“Dancing makes me feel so happy,” said Flowers. “There is just nothing like it.”

Tiffani Mathews is a public affairs intern at the Jack C. Montgomery VA Medical Center.

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Published on Oct. 4, 2020

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