Two Gulf Coast Veterans’ art works placed nationally in the 2021 VA Creative Arts Festival. Previously, the works had been featured in the July 2020 Gulf Coast VA Creative Arts Competition.

Niswonger’s “Lady Justice” won second place

Navy Veteran Kenneth Burrell’s “PTSD” was recognized as the top entry in the Creative Writing Division. Air Force Veteran Michael Niswonger’s ‘Lady Justice’ captured second place honors in the Art Division.

Recreational therapist Scarlet Cox said finishing at the national level demonstrates the commitment of both the organization and the Veterans they serve in ensuring the Creative Arts Competition proceeded despite the ongoing global health crisis.

“This year brought challenges but our Creative Arts team excelled in finding new virtual ways to make the competition happen,” Cox said.

50 entries – 25 first place finishes

The Gulf Coast VA Creative Arts Competition was held virtually in July 2020. It had more than 50 entries in five divisions (with each having multiple subdivisions) and produced 25 first place finishing entries. Those entries were then submitted to the national competition.

Veterans enrolled at VA health care facilities across the nation compete in local creative arts competitions. Those competitions include categories in visual arts, like oil painting and leatherwork and paint-by-number kits.

Categories in writing and performing arts including dance, drama and music.

First place winners in local competitions advanced to the national level in October via digital submission. First place winners at the national level of the competition will be invited to attend the 41st National Veterans Creative Arts Festival held in St. Petersburg, Florida, April 20-25, 2022.

“We’re so proud of Burrell and Niswonger and all our Veterans who use creative expression for leisure and therapeutic benefits,” Cox added. “The Creative Arts competition provides Veterans the opportunity to showcase their work and demonstrate how effective creative arts therapy can be.”

By Bruce Cummins is a public affairs specialist with the Gulf Coast VA.

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Published on Jan. 22, 2022

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  1. Richard Austin January 22, 2022 at 6:39 pm

    That’s awesome that the VA is revealimg talented Vets. How can I find out more information on the competition.

  2. James Reeves January 22, 2022 at 6:12 pm

    Where and when is this held for Arizona Veterans?? (National?)

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