by April Sullivan
We just finished the first meeting of our Texas Veterans Strong Creative Network. Gathered virtually were almost 30 people representing organizations such as the Veterans Administration, Veteran organizations, arts organizations that serve Veterans, and creative Veterans. Together we shared resources for the community such as an upcoming international call for art, a veteran organization looking for art to purchase for their walls, and more. This was the first of many gatherings, so if you missed it, here is where you can register to attend the next one. All creative veterans and veteran organizations are welcome.
Speaking of resources for the Veteran community, we have a binder in our office that is at least three inches thick called “Homecoming – Air, Land and Sea: A Resource Book-Montage About Veteran Suicide and Prevention Strategies” compiled by Ronald Townsend, US Army Veteran, South Korea-Vietnam. This thoughtful, well-organized book is a compilation of images, articles, and press releases on the topic of Veteran suicide.
I met Ronald Townsend at the Austin VA Outpatient Clinic when he entered the Local Veteran Creative Arts Festival. From there, he participated in some of our classes and events, and has been an asset to Art Spark Texas for several years now.
In the letter he attached to introduce his book, Ronald wrote: “As an African-American Veteran with prior service in South Korea and Vietnam, I am deeply concerned about the large number of veteran suicides. These events and the Veteran suicide at the Austin VA Clinic in 2019, led me to research and compile this document.”
In the introduction to his book, Ronald writes: “’Life’ was not always so promising. The veteran who took his life at the Austin VA Clinic could have been me.” He continues, “…this book-montage is dedicated to the VA, to their suicide prevention staff, and to VA chaplains. It is also useful for veteran service organizations and VA community partners. It is my way of giving back, and a way of offering hope to other service members, veterans, and their families. Each one has a unique story.”
Ronald has asked me to share this book with the Art Spark Texas community, so we invite you to come by our office at 1152 San Bernard Street in Austin to use this reference piece as you see fit in your own research and knowledge, as we gather as a community to lift up the voices of creative Veterans. We are open weekdays, but please call first at (512) 454-9912.