Tuesday, October 6, 2009

VA Chief of Staff Gingrich Kicks off National Veterans Creative Arts Festival in San Antonio

/PRNewswire/ -- On Oct. 5, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Chief of Staff John Gingrich celebrated Veteran-artists at the opening banquet of the National Veterans Creative Arts Festival in San Antonio, Texas. The festival is the culmination of a year-long fine arts competition involving nearly 3,500 participants nationwide. It is open to all Veterans receiving care at VA medical facilities.

"I salute each of our Veteran-artists -- from our 'Greatest Generation' to our latest generation -- for your service to America," said Gingrich. "The National Veterans Creative Arts Festival not only showcases the very 'best of the best' in the creative arts, but also VA's outstanding medical care and rehabilitative techniques."

More than 120 Veteran medal winners in music, dance, drama, creative writing and visual arts contests are participating in the week-long festival. The event will conclude on Oct. 11 with a visual art exhibit and gala variety stage show at the San Antonio Municipal Auditorium.

VA medical facilities incorporate creative arts into their recreation therapy programs. This annual competition recognizes the progress and recovery made through art therapy, and raises visibility of Veterans' creative achievements.

"VA's rehabilitation therapists deliver a brand of care that enriches -- even rescues -- lives by providing the kinds of art therapy that give self-confidence, pride and personal expression," said Gingrich.

The festival is presented by VA, Help Hospitalized Veterans (HHV) and the American Legion Auxiliary. It is hosted this year by the South Texas Veterans Health Care System.

"It is truly an honor for the American Legion Auxiliary to support the National Veterans Creative Arts Festival," said National President Rita Navarrete. "This phenomenal event affords our Veterans a unique outlet for their creative expression and is incredibly inspiring for everyone who is privileged to attend."

"The Board of Directors of HHV is again thrilled and privileged to co-sponsor the National Veterans Creative Arts Festival with VA and the American Legion Auxiliary," said Mike Lynch, HHV president and CEO. "HHV wishes to congratulate all Veterans who entered into this national competition, for you have shared your fantastic performing and visual arts abilities with America."

The artists will exhibit their work from 12:15 p.m. to 2 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 11, at the San Antonio Municipal Auditorium. At 2 p.m., performers in music, drama and dance, as well as the creative writing winners, will showcase their talents in an entertaining stage show backed by a professional orchestra. Heloise, from "Hints from Heloise," will serve as the festival stage show's mistress of ceremonies for the first time.

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