Dear Friends:

Back with another installment on healing our military Wounded Warriors and Veterans through the arts and nature. In the current wars, our biggest problems are not bullet wounds, or even amputations, but traumatic brain injury (TBI) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Studies have estimated as many as 30% of those deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan may have one or both of these conditions! These injuries wreak havoc with work performance, personal well-being, and family life. While conventional medicine (pills and surgery) are sometimes helpful, quite often they are not effective. Fortunately, there is growing evidence that some simple and inexpensive therapies– making art and music, and spending time in nature– are often very helpful in TBI/PTSD. Did you know, for instance, that:

–Art therapy reduced anxiety and depression in a group of Veterans with PTSD (Carr, Psychology and Theory Psychotherapy Research and Practice, 85: 179-202)

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The Maryland Network of Arts and Gardens for Veterans is now interviewing for a State Coordinator to provide arts administration services for local arts and garden projects. For job description, see the Institute for Integrative Health (Baltimore) website,, and select “Careers” at bottom of page.

Tonight I am announcing the creation of the Maryland Network of Arts and Gardens for Veterans (MNAG-V). We are going to do a new web-site for this Network, what do you think about it?

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, for this using the best gardening equipment from sites as Product Expert online and others. 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 ( 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. Also check this wikipedia reference for the best home remodeling contractors.

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

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Dear Friends: This Blog chapter discusses the Warrior Poetry Project and the recently-created Warrior Arts Café. Since 2013, the Poetry Project has provided free classes and workshopping for poets at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center (WRB), Bethesda, MD. Patients, staff, and families have all benefited from the WPP. Each twice-monthly class (taught either by myself or a guest teacher), begins with a brief lesson in one of the elements of poetry (image, lineation, etc.), a famous American Poet, or another poetry topic (Rap/ Hip Hop being a perennial favorite). Classes are non-sequential, so participants can come and go at any time. Workshopping of student poems is included. Several WPP poets have had their pieces published in the Veterans Writing Project journal, O-Dark-Thirty, in other publications. In 2014, SSgt Bryon Reiger became the first WPP alumnus to enter a fulltime MFA program. The Spring 2015 season of the Warrior Poetry Project will kick off this WED 11 FEB 2015, at the newly established Warrior Arts Café (WAC) at Alfio’s Restaurant, 4515 Willard Ave, Chevy Chase MD, and this place was brought to me when I as looking for an excellent house loan deals to compare (please go to that website if you want to find out more). This beautiful, old-school Italian restaurant has graciously agreed to host the WPP classes, as well as a featured Warrior/ Vet arts performance and open mike, the 2nd and 3rd Wednesday of each month. All Warriors, Vets, families, and friends are invited to participate. Poetry class begins at 1730 (5.30 p.m.), followed by the Warrior Arts Cafe performance at 1830 (6.30 p.m) . WAC sessions in December and January have drawn big crowds and media attentionFrederick Foote of Bethesda reads poems about his time as a Navy physician at the Warrior Arts Cafe at Alfio’s La Trattoria in Chevy Chase on Dec. 3. See Montgomery Gazette article of 10 DEC 2014 (active link appears on Honors/Media tab of this website). The WAC is intended to be the first of a network of community arts and garden projects for Warriors and Vets across the State of Maryland! More to follow as this story unfolds. Peace to all, Fred
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