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National Endowment for the Arts Announces Expansion of Creative Forces Healing Arts Network

Three Veteran-Serving Telehealth Sites to Join the Network

Washington, DC—In service to our nation’s military service members, today the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Office of Rural Health (ORH) are announcing plans to expand the telehealth component of Creative Forces®: NEA Military Healing Arts Network to additional Veterans Affairs medical facilities. 

Creative Forces is an initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with the U.S. Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs as well as state and local arts agencies to provide access to creative arts therapies—art, music, and dance/movement therapies, as well as creative writing instruction—for service members and veterans suffering from traumatic brain injury (TBI) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Through telehealth, creative arts therapists connect with patients in rural and remote places via video conferencing platforms. 

The Rural Veterans TeleRehabilitation Initiative (RVTRI), founded in 2009, is an ORH enterprise-wide initiative to deliver rehabilitation therapies to rural veterans wherever they are. RVTRI started at the North Florida/South Georgia Veterans Health System (NF/SG VHS) offering physical, occupational, and recreational therapy, later adding speech language therapy and supported employment services. Working with the University of Florida’s Center for Arts in Medicine, RVTRI was able to offer creative arts therapy through telehealth in 2014. In 2017, Creative Forces partnered with the RVTRI to allow it to offer music therapy via telehealth. Creative Forces subsequently implemented a similar program in Alaska, allowing patients from Basset Army Community Hospital in Fairbanks to receive creative arts therapies from providers working out of Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Anchorage.

In February 2019, a report was released in The Arts in Psychotherapy about telehealth and how the creative arts therapies can improve access to care, particularly for participants who experience health disparities due to distance or disability. Additional research associated with Creative Forces as well as key clinical research findings are available at arts.gov.

Richard L. Roudebush VA Medical Center (Indianapolis, Indiana), G.V. (Sonny) Montgomery VA Medical Center (Jackson, Mississippi), and VA Northeast Ohio Healthcare System (Cleveland, Ohio) have been selected to join Creative Forces and the Rural Veterans TeleRehabilitation Initiative, in collaboration with the Veterans Health Administration Office of Rehabilitation and Prosthetics Service and National Program Office, Recreation Therapy Service, as the newest telehealth sites. Once arrangements are finalized, creative arts therapists at each site will work with patients in rural and remote areas using secure internet video. 

“This Creative Forces expansion is an important part of the National Endowment for the Arts’ efforts to increase access to the arts for all Americans, especially to our veterans and those in rural communities,” said Mary Anne Carter, chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts. 

“Telehealth can be a hugely important tool in connecting rural veterans with the care they need,” said Dr. Thomas Klobucar, executive director of the VA Office of Rural Health. “Our partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts adds an entirely new dimension of care to our Rural Veterans TeleRehabilitation Initiative, allowing us to treat the whole veteran regardless of where they live.”

About Creative Forces
Creative Forces: NEA Military Healing Arts Network is an initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with the U.S. Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs and the state and local arts agencies that serves the special needs of military patients and veterans with traumatic brain injury and psychological health conditions, as well as their families and caregivers. Administrative support for Creative Forces is provided by Americans for the Arts. Visit arts.gov/creativeforces for more information.

About the National Endowment for the Arts
Established by Congress in 1965, the National Endowment for the Arts is the independent federal agency whose funding and support gives Americans the opportunity to participate in the arts, exercise their imaginations, and develop their creative capacities. Through partnerships with state arts agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector, the Arts Endowment supports arts learning, affirms and celebrates America’s rich and diverse cultural heritage, and extends its work to promote equal access to the arts in every community across America. Visit arts.gov to learn more.

About Veterans Affairs Office of Rural Health
As the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs' lead advocate for rural veterans, the Office of Rural Health (ORH) works to see that America’s veterans thrive in rural communities. To support the health and well-being of rural veterans, ORH establishes and disseminates Enterprise-Wide Initiatives that increase access to care for the 2.8 million rural veterans enrolled in the VA's healthcare system. Key focus areas include programs that address workforce shortages, transportation, primary care, mental health, telehealth and specialty care. To learn more, visit www.ruralhealth.va.gov. 

Contact

Victoria Hutter (NEA), hutterv@arts.gov, 202-682-5692

Stephen Miles (VA), Stephen.miles2@va.gov

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Art Works blog post featuring Jill Sonke, director of the Center for Arts in Medicine at the University of Florida in Gainesville about telehealth.