Creative Forces: NEA Military Healing Arts Network

Creative Forces: NEA Military Healing Arts Network Podcasts

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Headshot of a man.

Photo by Sara Houghteling

Author, physician and NEA Lit Fellow

Author, physician, and National Endowment for the Arts Creative Writing Fellow Daniel Mason wrote and published his first novel while he was still in medical school. The Piano Tuner received international acclaim, was translated into 28 languages, and adapted for theater and opera. Mason took time off after medical school to complete his second novel, A Far Place, which was short-listed for several literary prizes. Mason then finished his medical training and began his clinical practice and--since he’s not super-human after all--his third novel was 14 years in the making. Again,he struck gold wowing critics and readers alike with The Winter Soldier. The Winter Soldier tells the story of Lucius who leaves medical school in Vienna at the outbreak of World War I to serve in the Army. The Austrian-Hungarian empire, facing a shortage of doctors, allows medical students to staff field hospitals. Anxious for this practical experience, Lucius joins up and finds himself in a tiny village in the Carpathian mountains. He is expecting a well-staffed hospital run by experienced doctors who can mentor him. Instead, he finds himself the sole doctor in a bombed-out church doubling as a hospital whose single remaining medical personnel is a field nurse, Sister Margarete. The story that unfolds is Lucius’s medical and emotional coming of age. But the novel is also about the mad incongruity of World War I, the fleeting connections forged by war, and the growing awareness of the pervasiveness of a new condition affecting the armies—shell shock. Mason speaks thoughtfully about writing and psychiatry (his medical practice) and how his two careers are complementary and how they are not. We also talk about the joys and pitfalls of research and the attitudinal changes in medicine in the past 100 years.

Healing and building community through art

The first part of this week’s podcast looks at Creative Forces : NEA Military Healing Initiative. NEA Chairman Jane Chu and others reflect on the power of art to heal physical and psychological trauma as well as strengthen families and build community. In part 2, Sebastian Junger discusses his book, Tribe—which looks at the profound sense of loss some combat veterans feel when they return from deployment, and the various ways that art and ritual can help them re-enter their communities.

Author, Journalist and Filmmaker

His book Tribe rethinks PTSD.

(Injured Military Personnel + Art)

Creating art; changing lives.

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Fred Foote headshot.

Photo Courtesy of Fred Foote

Poet, doctor and retired Navy captain

The neurologist/holistic practioneer knows first-hand the healing power of the arts for veterans.

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Bryan Doerries

Photo by Howard Korn

Theater of War Director

Bryan Doerries discusses how bringing Greek tragedies to service members opens up new conversations. [30:31]

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Ron Capps

Photo courtesy of Ron Capps

Author, Veteran, Operation Homecoming Writing Instructor

Ron Capps helps returning service members write their way home. [27:06]

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Melissa Walker

Photo courtesy of NICoE

Art Therapist, NICoE

Melissa Walker discusses healing wounded service members through art at Walter Reed. [25:44]