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Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center - Houston, Texas

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Four Veterans Win Local Creative Arts Contest

April 10, 2013

Veteran James Balzaretti proudly displays his picture after winning 1st place for the art category at the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center Creative Arts Competition.”
PHOTO: Nikki Verbeck, Social Media Specialist


Four local Veterans who receive their health care at the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center (MEDVAMC) had their creative work selected to compete in the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) national creative arts competition.
The local winners include Jacqueline Beard in the creative writing category for poetry; Patrick Guide in the creative writing category for special recognition; James Balzaretti in the art category; and James Sanderson in the music category.
Nationwide, VA medical facilities use the creative arts as one form of rehabilitative treatment to help Veterans recover from and cope with physical and emotional disabilities. Across the country each year, Veterans treated at VA facilities compete in a local creative arts competition.

The competition includes 53 categories in the visual arts division that range from oil painting to leatherwork to paint-by-number kits. In addition, there are 120 categories in the performing arts pertaining to all aspects of music, dance, drama and creative writing. Select winners are invited to attend the National Veterans Creative Arts Festival each year.

The National Veterans Creative Arts Festival, taking place October 21 - 27, 2013 in Reno, NV, recognizes Veterans for their creative accomplishments and educates and demonstrates to communities throughout the country the therapeutic benefits of the arts.
“The Festival is a great opportunity to showcase Veteran’s creativity and raw talent. Each year on the local level the competition grows and I would like to see it grow even larger next year,” said Ca’metra Willis, a recreation assistant in the Rehabilitation Care Line. “Being a U.S. Army Veteran myself, I enjoy and take pride in organizing the local level competition and am pleased to see Veterans support each other in the arts.”

The National Veterans Creative Arts Festival is a week of learning, exploring, fellowship and celebration of the healing power of the arts. Because the gold, silver or bronze medal winners are already selected to participate in the Festival, there is no competition at the event itself; rather, it serves as a showcase for the top national winners.

During the week of the event, visual artists may attend classes in fine, applied and craft art, all taught by local artists and performing artists present a stage show. As part of the Festival, Veterans also visit a variety of local attractions including art museums and galleries, as well as other sites of interest to area visitors.

Photographs of the local winners may be viewed under the photo album at For more information about the 2013 National Veterans Creative Arts Festival sponsored by the Department of Veterans Affairs and the American Legion Auxiliary, visit