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 art 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. Thanks to Gumbi Ortiz for the VetArtSpan theme music.
Theo & Brianne Rooding
VetArtSpan host Fred Johnson has a wonderful conversation with Air Force veteran and painter Bernadette Dunn. A few years ago “Bernie” began attending the Straz Center’s Veteran Civilian Arts Ensemble, and she is now a key member of the group. Her connection began with the James Haley VA Hospital, where she participates in the whole-health “Drive to Thrive program.” In this conversation we learn about how the Veteran Civilian Arts Ensemble expanded Bernadette’s creativity to include dance, poetry, and further expanded her work as a visual artist. Working with the Ensemble, she experienced how to overcome that fear of diving into something new, like dancing in front of people. This joyful experience is helping her to make deep and meaningful connections between her blossoming creative expression and her peers in the veteran community.
VetArtSpan host Fred Johnson has an enlightening conversation with yoga instructor Annie Okerlin, founder of the Exalted Warrior Foundation, which facilitates adaptive yoga instruction programs for Veterans, active duty and military reserves, as well as spouses and caregivers in VA hospitals and in community studio spaces around the country. Annie explains how yoga applies to the warrior’s view of their bodies, and helps veterans “be here now” through the use of breath. Many who serve in the military know how to turn on the warrior within themselves, but don’t always know how to turn that off. Annie’s work helps them to use their breath to pause rather than react as they go through the journey of reintegration into civilian society.
Dr. Mark Staples
Noah White and Anna Pasquale
VetArtSpan host Fred Johnson visits with Noah White and Anna Pasquale, the driving forces behind the Creative Forces Open Studio within the Jacksonville-Onslow Council for the Arts in Jacksonville, North Carolina. Noah and Anna share their experiences as both administrators and artists serving the veteran community with a program that encourages and nurtures creative expression. This conversation (recorded in a video conference) reveals their deep commitment to providing a judgment-free environment where veterans and their families can safely explore the creative spirit that lives within us all. For Noah and Anna, this work begins with truly listening to the community, honoring their stories, and providing them with practical ways to dive into the creative process.
This episode of VetArtSpan features guest host Cathy DeWitt in an interview with Vietnam veteran and musician Reed Franklin. Shortly after being diagnosed with cancer, Reed decided to return to Vietnam after being away from the battlefield for 40 years. This decision resulted in amazing experiences and connections: going to Hanoi for the first time, playing music for hospital patients and singing for children in schools and orphanages. The initial inspiration for the trip was a song he heard on Cathy’s radio show. We’ll hear a bit of that, and a special treat: Reed playing and singing songs he performs in hospitals, both here and in Vietnam. Learn more about Reed’s incredible story here.
In this VetArtSpan podcast, host Fred Johnson has a conversation with Maxine Reyes, who talks about her life in the military with a husband who was also deployed, all the while while raising a child. Her transition to civilian life includes a re-blossoming of her artistic career as an in-demand musician. She is an active supporter of the veteran community and is a two-time recipient of the Humanitarian Service Medal and Military Outstanding Volunteer Medal. Her story is inspiring!
Expressive Arts for Veterans: Therapists and Artists
Women Veterans: The Creative Journey Home, Part 2
Women Veterans: The Creative Journey Home, Part 1
Operation: Art of Valor at the Morean Arts Center Hot Shop
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.
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.