Scientific evidence indicates that providing our military veterans with opportunities to express themselves can help them cope with the three most common symptoms of today’s conflicts: post-traumatic stress, traumatic brain injury, and depression. Studies tell us that engaging in the arts and nature can help individuals sleep better and have improved impulse control, greater concentration, and reduced levels of depression and anxiety. These activities can also serve as a protective factor in suicide prevention.
Vet Arts Connect seeks to expand the base of evidence demonstrating the health benefits of veterans’ experiences with the arts and nature. We believe that exposing veterans to these activities can have a positive impact on their levels of stress, anxiety, and anger; improve their ability to interact socially; and help them develop a higher level of self-esteem and self-confidence in their everyday lives. Through participation in an activity of their choice, veterans will also learn skills directly related to the chosen art form or nature activity
Vet Arts Connect will work with community partners to study the effects of arts and nature engagement on veterans’ overall health and well-being. Veterans in our study will participate in partner-led arts and nature activities that are recognized as high quality, professional, culturally expanding, community-centered, physically and intellectually accessible, and inclusive. Participants will be invited to provide data about their experiences before and after participating in a program.
To lay the groundwork for our study, a pilot program is underway to test the efficacy of proposed measurement tools and data gathering techniques, and to evaluate the training Vet Art Connect provides for program partners. After making adjustments based on the findings from our pilot projects, Vet Arts Connect will seek Institutional Review Board approval to study the impact of community arts and nature experiences on veterans’ health and well-being.
Through our online evaluation portal, provided by MD Logix, veterans will complete a series of surveys, which will be analyzed by our team of researchers. We’ll share the findings with our partners as well as institutions, policymakers, and professionals who are concerned with the health and well-being of veterans and the public at large.
The guiding principles of our study are:Do no harm
These concepts are reinforced at every level of programming to ensure that classes and workshops are presented in a supportive and inclusive atmosphere. We use the most recent and stringent measures to ensure we follow our guiding principles and provide a secure process for gathering data to inform our analysis. We make sure that the data gathering methods are non-invasive and appropriate. Our questionnaires are short and simple to ensure participation, and our research partner provides a platform that is easy to access on smartphones.