UPDATE: The virtual streaming of the film “Re-story: Transforming Veteran Stories into Art” and panel discussions have been extended through Nov. 22. Registration and the film can be accessed here.

How can the arts help Veterans heal? Can sharing one’s story be transformative? These are some of the questions explored through a creative learning project between Columbus College of Art & Design (CCAD) and the Veteran Arts Initiative (VAI) of the VA Central Ohio Healthcare System.

World War II Veteran William Rogers being interviewed by CCAD student Luke McLaughlin.

During the four-month long partnership, 28 CCAD students in documentary video, podcasting, and animation departments met with 21 VAI participants to share Veterans’ stories and explore how their creative efforts as artists have helped them process their individual military experiences.

In addition, Veterans’ poems from the VAI poetry workshops at the Franklin County jail were used to create short animations. Videographers combined and edited the videos, podcasts and animations to make this film.

Watch the film premiere here on Nov. 13 at 5 p.m. ET. Note: if you register from a government computer, you must use Google Chrome.

Panel discussion after the film

After the premiere of Re-story: Transforming Veteran Stories into Art, participants in the project will join retired Army Lt. Gen. Michael Ferriter to discuss the meaningful collaboration and its resulting film. Attendees will also learn about various resources available to Veterans through VA.

CCAD student Taylor Scalzo talks with Veteran Greg West during a mixer connecting students with participants in the VA Central Ohio Healthcare System’s Veteran Arts Initiative program.

Ferriter serves as president and CEO of the National Veterans Memorial and Museum. In his role, he leads the development of awareness, partnerships and a national community of support for the Museum. His focus is to create programs and opportunities to positively impact the lives of Veterans and civilians alike.

Watch the panel discussion here on Nov. 3 from 6 until 7 p.m. ET.


Bernard (Bernie) Pontones

Veterans who were interviewed in the film include:

Bernard (Bernie) J. Pontones is an Army Veteran and secretary/treasurer for Ohio Veterans Inc. Drafted in 1969, Pontones served with the 101st Airborne Division (Airmobile) as an infantry NCO. He was wounded one month into his tour, then again two weeks before returning to the United States. He received his Bachelor of Science degree in nutrition from Ohio State and studied pastoral counseling at Methodist Theological School in Ohio. Pontones feels that “the re-story process is valuable for transmitting traumatic experiences from the Veteran and into the mind of an artist who converts those experiences into a different, permanent format.”

Hannah Rodas is an Air Force Veteran and Veteran peer mentor at Ohio State University. Rodas served in the Air Force, then attended Ohio State. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science in human development and family sciences and a minor in studio art, with focuses in ceramic and sculpture. Helping others thrive in the face of trauma or stress is her passion. “Despite the obstacles life throws at us, it’s crucial to be able to step back and consider our situations through a different lens,” she said. “Observing in another perspective grants permission for positive change to take root.”

Hannah Rodas


Chillicothe VA Medical Center

Cincinnati VA Medical Center

Columbus College of Art & Design

National Veterans Memorial & Museum

VA Central Ohio Healthcare System

VA Northeast Ohio Healthcare System

About Veteran Arts Initiative of the VA Central Ohio Healthcare System

The Veteran Arts Initiative (VAI) of the VA Central Ohio Healthcare System is a diverse creative arts program that aims to facilitate mental wellness, increase social connectedness, and create a supportive community to form positive connections with VA. The Veteran Arts Council (VAC), a self-governed group of Veterans that acts as the VAI advisory board, developed its mission.

VAI offers free programs, including an open studio, artist in residency programs, workshops in visual arts, theater, writing, dance, music, crafts, as well as Choir & Jam night, exhibition opportunities, museum & gallery trips, and research on the health and psychological benefits of art.

About Columbus College of Art & Design

Columbus College of Art & Design is one of the oldest private, nonprofit art and design colleges in the United States. CCAD offers 12 BFA programs and a Master of Fine Arts program that produce graduates equipped to shape culture and business at the highest level.

Heather Seymour, MSW, LISW, is the creative arts coordinator for the Columbus VA.

Share this story

Published on Nov. 12, 2020

Estimated reading time is 3.9 min.

Views to date: 222

One Comment

  1. Daniel Olamide November 12, 2020 at 10:16 am

    This is one interesting idea the world will appreciate. Veterans and art is a very good one. I can’t wait.

Comments are closed.

More Stories

  • Innovation revolutionary: Entrepreneur in Residence Dr. Priya Joshi works to develop a more equitable process in treating and identifying Veterans with kidney disease, hypertension and diabetes.

  • Houston VA has performed more than 160 head and neck free flap reconstructive surgeries since the program was developed in 2017.

  • Chronic pain interferes with women Veterans’ daily lives. Talk to your VA provider about an individualized pain management plan.