Today, Second Lady Karen Pence visited the Richard L. Roudebush Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Center in Indianapolis, Indiana for a roundtable discussion on the facility’s new Creative Forces Program, with a focus on art therapy and telehealth.

There, Mrs. Pence was met by Art Therapist Lisa Rainey and brought into a conference room for the roundtable discussion. The roundtable participants consisted of some of Lisa’s colleagues at the VA facility and two current veteran art therapy patients who participated virtually.

At the beginning of the discussion, Mrs. Pence highlighted her Art Therapy initiative and the important work of Creative Forces in supporting servicemembers and veterans. The two veterans then shared their stories and experiences with art therapy as a way of healing and recovery. One veteran has been using art therapy to cope with grief and loss, and the other veteran has used art therapy to help calm and focus his emotions.

Then, Lisa shared more on starting the new Creative Forces art therapy program through a partnership with the VA’s Rural Veterans TeleRehabilitation Initiative that started in 2019 to deliver rehabilitation therapies to rural Veterans wherever they are and the impacts the COVID-19 pandemic has had on therapy sessions. Lisa also showed Mrs. Pence a few pieces of artwork and a sample of an art therapy kit she has been sending to patients for virtual sessions, which includes clay, paint, disposable pallets, brushes, and a mask.  Lastly, Recreational Therapist Brittany Thomas shared information on the partnership with Creative Forces; plans to expand the Creative Forces program by adding a music therapist this August; and the future of their programs with the new COVID-19 requirements. Some of the new requirements include increasing telehealth sessions, not being able to include family members in therapy sessions, and a limited number of patients and visitors entering the facility.

Roundtable Participants:

  • Lisa Rainey, Art Therapist
  • Laura Ruzick, Medical Center Director
  • Richard Griffith, Public Affairs Officer
  • Brittany Thomas, Recreational Therapist
  • Two veterans

About the Richard L. Roudebush VA Medical Center Creative Forces Program:
Creative Forces: National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Military Healing Arts Network is an initiative of the NEA in partnership with the U.S. Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs (VA) and the state and local arts agencies. They serve the special needs of military patients and veterans with traumatic brain injury and psychological health conditions, as well as their families and caregivers. In November 2019, the NEA and the VA Office of Rural Health announced plans to expand the telehealth component of Creative Forces to Richard L. Roudebush VA Medical Center, as well as two other locations. You can learn more here.