February 28, 2019 | Advocacy 


On Tuesday February 26, 2019 Christopher Stowe Master Gunnery Sergeant, USMC (ret.) testified on behalf of the AATA alongside Americans for the Arts (AftA) President and CEO Robert L. Lynch before the House Interior Appropriations Subcommittee.  They urged the subcommittee to fund the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) at $167.5 for FY 2020, a $12.5 million increase from FY 2019.

In his testimony Mr. Lynch presented compelling economic and outcomes data on the NEA in general, and the Creative Forces: NEA Military Healing Arts Network in particular.  Mr. Stowe spoke of his life-changing experience with art therapy through the Creative Forces program at the National Intrepid Center of Excellence (NICoE) at Walter Reed.

“I can attest to the mixed emotions that can be felt during a mask-making exercise: guilt, fear, and self-loathing/self-doubt at first, then, while moving through the making of the mask, feelings of exhilaration, freedom, resolution, and accomplishment can start to emerge” Stowe shared of the art therapy program.  “I can also state unequivocally that art therapy has helped save my life.” Read his full testimony here.




This was the first public witness hearing held by the U.S. House Interior Appropriations Subcommittee that was dedicated to non-tribal programs since 2015.  The AATA was pleased to take part and extends our gratitude to Mr. Stowe for his willingness to share his journey with art therapy.



(From left) Christopher Stowe, Master Gunnery Sergeant, USMC (ret.); Cynthia Woodruff, AATA Executive Director; and AftA President and CEO Robert Lynch. 


Creative Forces: NEA Military Healing Arts Network is a partnership of the NEA, the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs, and state and local arts agencies that serves the special needs of military service members and veterans with traumatic brain injury and psychological health conditions, as well as their families and caregivers.  Currently at 11 clinical sites, the Creative Forces program utilizes 14 NEA-funded and four DoD/VA-funded creative arts therapists (CATs), who are integrated into interdisciplinary treatment teams providing art therapy, music therapy, dance/movement therapy, and creative writing instruction for service members with TBI and associated psychological health issues. In 2018, more than 16,000 patient encounters took place, and over 3,000 new patients were served. Additionally, the program significantly invests in related research, with 11 new studies underway and nine already published.