Hear from veterans, artists, therapists, and  community arts organizations who serve the veteran community.

Stories From the Field

These podcasts provide an opportunity for the veteran and civilian community to have a shared experience of hearing from veterans, along with the artists who serve as arts therapists, artists who represent community arts organizations that work in partnership with veteran medical facilities that serve our veterans, and organizations that offer resources and outreach to our veteran community. You will hear insights into military culture and the nuances of military life. These sessions serve to inform our civilian population and foster a foundation for clearer understanding and compassionate communication.

Women Veterans: The Creative Journey Home, Part 1

The journey home can take a long time for our veterans who transition back into civilian life. VetArtSpan host Fred Johnson interviews a group of women veterans who have embraced creative expression as a way to smooth their unique reintegration process. Many of these women are involved in the Diavolo Dance project, in conjunction with Straz Salutes. This two-part story was recorded at the Straz Center for the Performing Arts in Tampa, FL, as part of the VetArtSpan initiative.

John Parks

Our VetArtSpan host Fred Johnson talks with esteemed teacher, choreographer, producer, and director John Parks. Fresh from his collaboration with Diavolo dance and a group of inspired veterans, John talks about how movement is a universal means of expression, and how “muscle memory” can give us a way to become fluent in the language of movement. Usually used to “feeding” his students, he and the veterans that he mentored as part of this Diavolo project were all “fed” by the total group effort. Working with veterans helped him to understand what the reintegration process must have been like for his father, a veteran of the Korean War.

Operation: Art of Valor at the Morean Arts Center Hot Shop

Fred Johnson and the VetArtSpan team spent a dynamic morning with a group of veterans who were creating a team-based glass sculpture – from concept to finished product. Moving together as one and handling the 2000 degree glass helps them stay in the “now” moment. They tell the story of art as a healing force in their own words. The program’s mission is to serve the military and veteran population through structured, hands-on learning that focuses on improving cognition, social interaction, physical dexterity, teamwork and confidence.

Jennifer Samuel-Chance

Our host Fred Johnson engages in a conversation with vocalist and inspirational speaker Jennifer Samuel-Chance. Her life journey moved through a career in business and morphed into the life of an artist. Blessed with a powerful voice, she sings opera and coaches people on becoming authentic storytellers. Her artistic journey lead her to show veterans that all stories matter. By helping them accept their own truth, she demonstrates how to dive into the creative process. “If you are truthful and authentic, people will see it, feel it, and get inspired by it, and that is all that you can do.”

Dwayne Scheuneman

VetArtSpan host Fred Johnson guides us on a conversation with dancer and choreographer Dwayne Scheuneman. Dwayne’s life as a dancer is manifested from his heart, and from his wheel-chair. He evolved from the world of athletics to perhaps the unlikely world of dance, where he found the artistic expression of movement helped to tell his story, and helps many veterans live their stories through the experience of his dance. A member of AXIS Dance as well as his own REVolutions Dance company, Dwayne is a key participant in the DIAVOLO Dance performance that unites veterans with this world-renowned ensemble, set to premier at the Straz Center. Dwayne tours all over the world demonstrating the power of creative expression as a way to create community and give people a glimpse of their own power and freedom.

Victor Carlos Alcantara, at the Straz Center

VetArtSpan host Fred Johnson interviews Victor Carlos Alcantara, a veteran of 20 years with the Air Force as an aeromedical technician. His love of painting started early in life, and after serving in Viet Nam and the Gulf War, he returned to his art to become a highly accomplished painter as well as building a successful career in public health management. Fred and Carlos talk about how being alert to opportunities can help in the reintegration process for newly retired veterans.

Belicia Adams and Alexis STIX Brown

VetArtSpan podcast host Fred Johnson talks with Belicia Adams and Alexis STIX Brown, who are the heart and soul of Paint22.com, an organization that provides welcoming art-making experiences to veterans and their families. Alexis and Belicia talk about their artistic process and how they help create those uplifting and creative experiences for the veteran families they work with.

Erica Guevara

VetArtSpan host Fred Johnson has an enlightening conversation with Erica Guevara, wife of veteran Manny. She shares her thoughts on the Vet Civilian Dialog and how the experience brought connection and peace for her and Manny. She finds a new role for art as she and her family help to transition Manny back into the civilian life, and she rediscovers herself as a prolific painter.

The Bodge Family at The James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital

VetArtSpan host Fred Johnson has an intimate conversation with Air Force veteran Ryan Bodge and his wife Tiffany and son Garrett, along with art therapist Merrilee Jorn and service dog Bradley. The family speaks of their shared experience both during and after Ryan’s deployments, and of how they all pulled together to support each other. Ryan tells us how tapping into the experience of making art and training service dogs helped him on his journey toward a positive reintegration.

Vet Civilian Dialog at the Inkwell Centre

VetArtSpan host Fred Johnson leads a group discussion with veterans, their families, and civilians. This conversation is all about understanding the issues facing veterans, and the idea is to create a safe space for all to express their feelings about a variety of issues facing veterans as they reintegrate from active duty.

Dale and Valerie Kelley, with Guest Host Cathy DeWitt

Guest host Cathy DeWitt interviews combat veteran Dale Kelley about how tapping into his creative side helped him in his reintegration process after a long stint serving in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. His wife Valerie, an accomplished artist herself, shares this transformative experience from her perspective.

Matt Piepenbrok from the Morean Arts Center Hot Shop

VetArtSpan host Fred Johnson interviews glass studio instructor Matt Piepenbrok about his work with the veterans who come to learn the challenging and sometimes dangerous craft of shaping and blowing molten glass. Their conversation sheds light on how creativity impacts the veteran experience.

Merrilee Jorn and Natalie Quintana  from the James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital

VetArtSpan host Fred Johnson interviews music therapist Natalie Quintana and art therapist Merrilee Jorn about the intricacies of their work with veterans in the hospital and the community setting.

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