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Recently, at an event held at the National Intrepid Center of Excellence (NICoE), part of Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, the National Endowment for the Arts and the Department of Defense announced the expansion of their partnership into Creative Forces: NEA Military Healing Arts Network. The expanded Creative Forces program places creative arts therapies at the core of patient-centered care at ten additional clinical sites, and increases access to therapeutic arts activities in local communities for military members, veterans, and their families. The program is also investing in research on the impacts and benefits of these innovative treatment methods.

 

Since 2011, this military healing arts partnership has supported creative arts therapies for service members with traumatic brain injury and associated psychological health issues at two military medical facilities in the Washington, DC, area: the NICoE at Walter Reed in Bethesda, and the NICoE Intrepid Spirit-1 at Fort Belvoir in Virginia. The President and Congress recognized the success of the program at these facilities, and believed it could do more. In fiscal year 2016, Congress appropriated a $1.928 million budget increase for the NEA, specifically allocated to expand this military healing arts program.

 

Creative Forces will extend creative arts therapies to ten additional locations by 2017. The NEA is providing funding for creative arts therapists, including, but not limited to, art and music therapists, creative writing instructors, as well as program support at these locations. Initially, five new clinical sites will join Creative Forces, including Fort Hood in Killeen.

 

TCA is among the network of state, local, and regional arts agencies and nonprofit partners working with the NEA to develop community-based arts programs that allow patients to continue exploring art practices as part of their healing process. In addition to military service members, these programs will be available for veterans, families, and caregivers to access arts programming.

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