The Veteran Artist Program (VAP) was created for veterans by veterans. While in the U.S. Army, founder BR McDonald discovered many other creative types in uniform. What seemed like an unlikely pairing – military and the arts –made sense to BR because of his background in the arts and his degree in music from the University of North Carolina.
After his service, BR realized the support and camaraderie from the military were still needed as veterans wrestled with the universal question, “What next?”BR reached out to fellow Baltimore-based veterans Rich Blake (Marine) and Mike Subelsky (Navy), who became founding board members, and VAP was born. More veterans came on board the following year, including many of the current VAP team. Josh Davidson, an Air Force veteran and actor/filmmaker, jumped on board to produce documentaries and full-length films. Erin Byers, an Army veteran and visual artist, participated in Telling: Baltimore and is now our VAP VIS lead.
The arts have been a powerful, therapeutic tool in the healing process for many combat veterans reintegrating back into society and transitioning back into civilian life. The arts, however, also represent something else. Hope. Dreams. A Future.
Whether it is painting, writing, performing on stage, acting in a movie, or singing opera, the possibilities are limitless. VAP exists to provide other veterans the encouragement, motivation, and means to follow their passion in unchartered territory. Through networking, collaborations, mentorship, and actual productions veterans can realize it is not too late to pursue their dreams.
"So many people think that the military experience is at odds with the creative arts world - It's not. As a veteran, I don't have to give up one world for the other, even though I may have considered it at one time. The time is NOW for veterans to reshape the arts in America and own the discussion about the veteran experience in the mainstream creative arts community" - BR McDonald