American Legion Auxiliary members at the 2014 National Veterans Creative Arts Festival in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

American Legion Auxiliary members at the 2014 National Veterans Creative Arts Festival in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

By: Jordan Schupbach 

Each year, VA hosts the National Veterans Creative Arts Festival and each year, the Festival co-presenter, American Legion Auxiliary (ALA), provides support that is absolutely vital to the success of the event. Recently, the ALA received a much-deserved honor to highlight their many years of supporting Veterans through art therapies.

The Americans for the Arts presented the ALA with the prestigious Outstanding Contribution to the Arts Award for the Auxiliary’s important work in helping Veterans heal through the arts, most notably through the ALA’s 14-year co-sponsorship of the annual National Veterans Creative Arts Festival.

Since 2000, the American Legion Auxiliary has played a key role in the National Veterans Creative Arts Festival as a co-sponsor of the event, along with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). In addition to raising funds, ALA departments also provide volunteers who assist with everything from punching meal tickets to stuffing programs to ironing costumes for the stage show.

Janet Jefford

American Legion Auxiliary National President Janet Jefford helps Marine Corps Veteran Rick Stang with his credentials at the 2014 National Veterans Creative Arts Festival.

The national award was presented to the ALA by retired U.S. Army Brigadier General Nolen Bivens and accepted by National President Janet Jefford. “Every year, more than 8 million veterans receive care through the VA healthcare system, many of whom use the arts to heal,” Jefford said. “We are grateful for this recognition of the important work our humble volunteers facilitate through the healing arts.” Jefford graciously dedicated the honor to our U.S. veterans.

The National Arts Awards recognize artists and arts leaders who exhibit exemplary national leadership and whose work demonstrates extraordinary achievement. They are individuals who share a common belief in the power of the arts and arts education to enrich individual lives and communities alike.

The Clement J. Zablocki VA Medical Center hosted this year’s event featuring the gold medal-winning entries from 53 categories of art, ranging from oil painting to leatherwork to fiber art in an exhibit at the Grand Rotunda of the Milwaukee Theatre on Nov. 2.

Learn more about the Creative Arts Festival at www.creativeartsfestival.va.gov.