Tonight I am announcing the creation of the Maryland Network of Arts and Gardens for Veterans (MNAG-V).
If making art and music, and engagement with Nature, are healing for brain injury and PTSD (as we have learned at Walter Reed), how can we bring these benefits to Veterans outside the military base? The answer is simple. Communities can bring their local artists together and pay them to give free arts and music lessons to local Veterans. They can engage their local gardeners to build gardens with the assistance of Veterans. This may be more healing to these Vets than any medical treatment, and will allow towns and neighborhoods to take care of their own. As this message gets out, locally-managed, locally-funded arts and garden projects are springing up across Maryland. Bethesda, Westminster, La Plata, Essex, and other locales have up and running programs; Annapolis, Baltimore, and other places are poised to follow suit. This spring, The Institute for Integrative Health, Baltimore (www.tiih.org) will hire a State Coordinator to knit these initiatives together. Each local project will be self-managed and locally-funded, but the State Coordinator will assist them with training, policies and procedures, links to arts organizations, and research. The goal of MNAG-V is no less than to decrease the burden of PTSD, and the number of Veteran suicides, across the state. If successful, it can become a model for the Nation.
How is this message being spread? The answer is through the power of poetry! As I travel seeking support for the Green Road, the Walter Reed Arts Program, and other projects, I find that five minutes of poetry on Wounded Warriors inspires civilian audiences to act and to give, bridging the “civilian/military divide”. Several audiences have asked, “How can I do this for the Veterans in my own town?” The Maryland Network is the result. My friends and I will continue to beat the drum throughout 2015.
Come to any of my Maryland events (see “Events” tab) to learn more! I will also come free of charge to your community or organization.
Peace and healing, Fred