Year of the Veteran: Creativity, Healing, and Well-Being

two people look at handmade stain glass artwork during art exhibit

The Institute for Integrative Health, the Maryland State Arts Council, and the Maryland State Department of Education are proud to officially announce a new learning opportunity for community members, artists, and educators with the new Veteran-Ready Community Arts Micro-Credential course, a new suite of competency-based professional learning courses for facilitators of creative classrooms geared toward veterans. 

This program is just one of several programs offered to a variety of community throughout Maryland such as early childhood, elementary, middle, and high school students. 

The Veteran Artists of Sticks & Stones

During this event featured the Sticks & Stones exhibition, a joint initiative of the Institute for Integrative Health, Vet Arts Connect, and New Day Campaign. This exhibit works to lift the stigma of trauma related to substance abuse and mental health. To coincide with the Institute’s Micro-Credential announcement, this unique exhibit also featured the works of four veteran artists (profiles below) who found healing through artistic expression.

Earman R. Branch

Earman Branch was just preparing for high school graduation when he was drafted into the US Marine Corps to fight in the Vietnam War. After his 13-month tour, Earman grew angry about the war and the way returning veterans were treated. He struggled to find purpose and turned to art as an escape from real life. Today, Earman makes sculptures, take photographs, and writes poetry.  

headshot of an artist and his cat sculpture

ragtime

As a US Marine, ragtime endured 13 months in some of the worst fighting in the Vietnam War. Learning of the falsehoods told about the war ripped at his soul, and in 1974, he had an epiphany as he stared at a stained glass window of Richard Nixon in a California bar: he decided to study to become a stained glass artist. It wasn’t until 2006 that ragtime decided to combine his art with activism. For the Morgan Arts Council’s art auction, he created a stained glass peace sign. After it sold ragtime launched a new project, 1000 Points of Peace. He would make stained glass peace signs until the Iraq War was over or he reached 1000. A local musician and theater friends connected ragtime with Common Ground where he began his current work supporting mentally and emotionally wounded younger veterans. Today, ragtime is a retired stained glass artist living in the mountains of Berkeley Springs, West Virginia, and cherishing his time as a grandfather.

artist and his stained glass creation

Jon Meadows

artist with his military themed sculpture

James Miller

artist james miller and his painting