I strongly believe every veteran should tell their story for the benefit of themselves and their loved ones. Personally, it was very hard for me to talk about my Iraq war experience, and avoided questions about it. I didn’t want to revisit the sad feelings or horrific memories. It wasn’t until after I began to tell my story to people that I felt a sense of relief from some of the grief I held inside.
— Veteran Participant, Art Program

CreatiVets currently offers two programs - a songwriting program that pairs veterans with accomplished songwriters in Nashville to write a song, and a three week art program with The School of the Art Institute in Chicago where veterans learn ceramics, painting and photography. Our programs are structured to reach veterans on an individual basis to ensure they are getting a customized, one-on-one experience to best help them heal.

For most veterans, talking about their trauma can be a unique challenge.  Military service teaches the  "carry your own pack" mindset, where our servicemen and women learn they must be strong enough to carry their own burdens, whether physical, mental or emotional, in order to survive the grueling nature of combat.  This mindset prepares them well for their duties, but for veterans that suffer from PTS, it can hinder them in getting the help they need because they don't want to burden anyone with their story.  It can also be painful for the veterans to re-live their experiences and loss each time they tell their story.  Yet in the CreatiVets program, the veterans' focus is on creating a tangible work that embodies their experience, rather than directly talking about their story.  Each of our programs is designed to maximize the opportunity for the veteran to use art to first address the events that caused the trauma, and then show how art can serve as a coping mechanisms the veteran can utilize without "handing off the pack."   By creating something beautiful out of something tragic, the veteran often takes the first step towards healing, and also learns that in sharing the song or piece of art with others who are affected by the work, the veteran is not alone in the struggle to cope.