Healing Arts for Veterans Program

The Georgetown Arts and Culture Program has teamed up with Resilient Me Community Based Resiliency Programs, Austin Classical Guitar, country music artist Wynn Williams, Wag Heaven, and artists Jay Rivera and J. Muzacz to provide arts components to the Rotary Club of Georgetown’s 2020 Field of Honor® that include healing and outreach to veterans, military service-members, and first responders through music, visual art, and community engagement in a public art project. There is currently insufficient capacity and funding within the health care community to serve the physical and mental health issues of veterans, service-members, and first responders. We needed to create an arts program to raise awareness of the issues confronted by this underserved population and present options for artistic programming that help address these issues.

The first arts component of the Healing Arts for Veterans Program, “Storytelling Through Music”, is a program that was originally created by Austin Classical Guitar as part of the ACG Veterans Songwriting ProgramThe local nonprofit Resilient Me: Community Based Resiliency Programs for Veterans has facilitated the collaboration between Austin Classical Guitar and Georgetown’s Healing Arts for Veterans Program to provide this music component. The music program includes adapting stories by veterans into lyrics and set to music by professional musicians from Austin Classical Guitar and country music artist Wynn Williams. The storytelling is designed to help veterans process trauma from their service in the military. The music will be performed on November 7th by country music artist Wynn Williams. The music performance was planned for the Field of Honor® location; however, the public performance at the field was cancelled due to COVID. Instead there will be a small outdoor performance at Cimarron Hills Country Club with very limited seating and reservations required in order to adhere to social distancing guidelines. A small Field of Honor® display will be set up, and guests will have the opportunity to purchase flags. For more information on the event and to register for the event, please click here to visit our Facebook event page

Veterans participating in the music program include William Childress, Bobby Withrow, and John Hill.  To learn the story of William Childress and to view the video featuring his song, click here. To view the process video featuring Bobby Withrow and John Hill, click here. This video has two excerpts from the last zoom songwriting sessions with Wynn and Travis where John and Bobby heard their complete songs for the very first time. The first song is called A Prayer for the Living, and was written by John Hill with Travis Marcum and Wynn Williams. John was an Army medic in Afghanistan, and wanted to write a song for fellow service members struggling with the pain they hold onto after the experience of war. The second song is called When Blue Stars Turn Gold, written by Bobby Withrow with Wynn Williams and Travis Marcum. Bobby served in the Navy and now runs the Texas Fallen Project where he supports families all over the state who have lost loved ones in battle. A Gold Star Family is one that has lost a member in service. Bobby wanted to write a song that helps people understand the need to honor our fallen soldiers and to support their loved ones who are fighting their own battle every day.

“Removing the Mask” was planned as the second component of the project and included artwork created by veterans through the Resilient Me art therapy program featuring mask making. Artwork created at this workshop was planned for exhibition at the Field of Honor®; however, due to COVID, the workshops could not be facilitated. So the mask making workshop was cancelled, and the music program was expanded.

Component three includes a public art mural located in the Texas Cultural District encompassing downtown Georgetown. The Arts and Culture Program is collaborating with the local pet supply business, Wag Heaven, to create a service-dog themed public art mural to honor our K-9 service heroes while commemorating the Rotary Club of Georgetown’s Field of Honor®, as well as War Dog Hero, Nemo A534. The mural will begin installation during the week of Veterans Day and will include a community painting event on Veterans Day, November 11th. The artists awarded for their artwork, “Best Friends”, are artist Jay Rivera who served 18 years in the military and artist J. Muzacz who has completed another Georgetown mural, “El Arbol, (The Tree)” located at the Georgetown Municipal Court. The public art mural component of this project is also sponsored in part by Wag Heaven.

This collaborative program was proposed in applications to both the National Endowment for the Arts: Arts Engagement in American Communities Grant Program and the Texas Commission on the Arts: Arts Respond – Health and Human Services Grant Program funded through Creative Forces. Georgetown’s Healing Arts for Veterans Program was awarded $10,000 from the NEA and $4,000 from the TCA. The Arts and Culture Board is very excited to receive this funding and bring this type of healing arts programs for veterans to Georgetown.  With the established success and prestige of the Rotary Club of Georgetown’s annual project: the Field of Honor® – Honoring Service Above Self, this program will expand the reach of both the Georgetown Arts and Culture Program and the Field of Honor® to continue building community through the arts!

For more information on the Rotary Club of Georgetown’s Field of Honor®, please click here.

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