Helping veterans: Organization gives vets chance to explore creative side with art

The transition from military life to civilian life can be challenging. But one organization is giving veterans a chance to explore their creative side, which can help open up new opportunities.

That's what the United States Veterans Artist's Alliance, or USVAA, is designed to do.

Executive Director Keith Jeffreys, who is a former Green Beret, says veterans already have lots of skills gained through their military service.

But they provide a unique opportunity to explore their artistic side.

Jeffreys said, "Not only are veterans individuals like everyone else who wants to explore creative opportunities, but they're extraordinarily talented too."

Jen Lavita is a U.S. Army vet, and painter. She says the organization has helped her combine her love for art, with her unique background as a veteran.

"USVAA gave me an outlet to go on to something that married two big identity pieces of myself," Lavita said.

Jeffreys said there are lots of other programs the USVAA offers, as well.

"We have mentors who are professional writers that come in," he explained.

"It's called a table-read workshop, and veterans who are participating are able to present their work and then get it evaluated."

The next step: Trying to get national recognition in November for National Veterans in the Arts and Humanities Day.

"We want you to be able to retain the pride that you feel in being a veteran, but we don't want you to have to feel like you have to be a 'veteran' for the rest of your life, and that's really the primary objective of the organization," Jeffreys said.
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