31 December 2008

Contribute in Thought or Deed to the Vet Art Project

I know that while the needs of the world grow, our personal resources diminish. I am, however, asking you to consider making a contribution to the Vet Art Project by participating or making a donation in-kind or monetary contribution (tax deductible through the Vet Art Project's fiscal sponsor Fractured Atlas).

You may already be familiar with the Vet Art Project's mission statement:
The Vet Art Project creates opportunities for veterans to work in collaboration with artists to create new art about war for public performance and viewing. The goals of the Vet Art Project are to:
Support our veterans
Create stronger voices among our veterans
Provide new opportunities for artists and
Offer a venue to hear the voices of our veterans and artists and
Foster discussions about how war affects us all

The seed for this idea was planted in late 2007 when I heard Ed Tick, author of War and the Soul, on the radio. He gave an impassioned plea to support our veterans, and for community members to witness their truth, and I realized that art and artists could help build a bridge to reconnect us all. I never dreamed that this seed would blossom into the beautiful reality that is the Vet Art Project--in residence in the Studio Theater of the Chicago Cultural Center in February 2009--culminating in a free public performance of new art about war on Monday, February 23, 7:30 p.m. While the month of the Vet Art Project lies before us, the accomplishments are already clear:
  • More than a dozen outreach programs have educated the community about the needs of veterans and their families, and provided contributions individuals can make to change lives.
  • More than two dozen veterans and family members of veterans and more than 100 artists, creative arts therapists, psychologists, and others have participated in the Vet Art Project to date.
  • A Veterans Day performance honoring the journey of a soldier created from veterans' writing submitted to the National Vietnam Veterans Art Museum, was created with the assistance of American Theater Company affiliated artists and ensemble members.
  • Many organizations have made in-kind donations and grants to support our veterans voices including Chicago Dramatists, Rivendell Theatre Ensemble, Stage Left Theatre, American Theater Company, the Chicago Book Festival (Chicago Public Libraries), the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs, the Puffin Foundation, and most recently the Illinois Humanities Council.
Collaborative partnerships between veterans and artists are already underway for the February 23rd event, yet much work still lies ahead. As you may already know this is the first step in what I hope will become a national movement to activate our artists to help veterans tell stories of war so we will all bear witness to the truth. 

Complete details on how to make a tax-deductible contribution to the Vet Art Project through its fiscal sponsor Fractured Atlas are available at www.vetartproject.com/sponsor.html. Please visit www.vetartproject.com to learn more and get involved.

War affects us all. We need to know the truth about war. Veterans carry this truth. We need to support them, honor their service, and listen to their truth. The Vet Art Project is a single step in this direction. Honor this path by walking with us.

14 December 2008

Veterans lead the way at latest Vet Art Project Outreach Program

The DuPage Writers Group hosted the most recent outreach program for the Vet Art Project at the Carol Stream Public Library. A dozen of us gathered to share stories about war and learn about the plans for the Vet Art Project at the Chicago Cultural Center in February 2009. And while I came with a lot of prepared material, we were treated to a great learning experience with the help of J.D. Kammes (Iraq War and Kosovo War veteran), a member of the NIU Veterans Group, and Gerald L. Lundby (WWII veteran). J.D. talked about how sharing his war experiences with his family helped his uncle share some of his experiences during the Vietnam War for the first time. Ilona Meagher, author of Moving a Nation to Care: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and America's Returning Troops (www.igpub.com) and creator of the PTSDCombat.com Web site also attended and provided these photos.
Thanks to Beth Orchard of the DuPage Writers Group who organized this event. Thanks, too, to the other writers of the group who are helping to record the stories of veterans that will be published early in 2009. More details to come soon.