Gulf Coast Veteran Creative Arts Entries Ranked in National Competition


Two artworks by Gulf Coast veterans placed nationally in the 2021 VA Creative Arts Festival. Previously, the artworks were 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” won second place in the Art division.

Recreation therapist Scarlet Cox said finishing nationally demonstrates the commitment of the organization and the veterans they serve to keep the creative arts competition running despite the ongoing global health crisis.

“This year has brought challenges, but our creative arts team has excelled in finding new virtual ways to bring the competition to life,” Cox said.

50 entries – 25 first places

The Gulf Coast VA Creative Arts Competition was held virtually in July 2020. It had over 50 entries across five divisions (each with multiple subdivisions) and produced 25 first-place finishers. These applications were then submitted to the national competition.

Veterans enrolled at VA healthcare facilities across the country participate in local creative arts competitions. These competitions include categories in visual arts, such as oil painting and leathercraft and paint-by-number kits.

Writing and performing arts categories, including dance, drama, and music.

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

“We are so proud of Burrell and Niswonger and all of our veterans who use creative expression for recreation and therapeutic benefits,” Cox added. “The Creative Arts Competition gives veterans the opportunity to showcase their work and demonstrate how effective creative arts therapy can be.


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