Our Mission

The Veterans Art Foundation’s small and doesn’t have much in the way of space/money/equipment.  However, we have something just as good, reach.  While we may not have until we have sponsorship or a businessperson in charge (not me).  We can provide opportunities.

We’ll continue to open doors for Vets or act as a go between.  Please utilize the opportunities to further yourself and your art (if that’s what you’re trying to do).  It will benefit us by lending credibility and expose us to a greater audience.

By this I mean art shows, film festivals, poetry collections, gallery openings, music  promotion, dance and sculpture to name a few.

I can understand struggle and failure.  In the beginning I tried to publish a memoir with the funds helping the VAF.  I was rejected soundly and gave up.  It’s a bit different now.  With the VAF we can breach the wall.  There are days I doubt my own skills or ability to run the program.  There are plenty of more talented people out in the veterans world who can benefit with our help.  All it takes is an opening to make a mark on the world.

Screenplay: SATIN FIST

I’m attempting to attach a downloadable PDF file of a screenplay.  It’s based on PTSD, DADT (Don’t Ask Don’t Tell), and revenge.

It’s called Satin Fist, which is a play on the old Iron Fist type films.  Please feel free to download it and feedback’s welcome.  We hope someday to produce it locally or in Hollywood.  It’s a second draft, so it’s a bit rough around the edges.martial art movie

The stigma needs to be removed…

Veterans, Cops, and other people in stressful jobs find it hard to admit they’re having problems.  The main reason is dealing with the Stigma that comes with admitting mental illness.

I was an infantryman for 4 years with the Stryker Brigade in Alaska.  Infantry is full of alpha males and people who want to be perceived as mentally and physically tough.  I was guilty of heaping some scorn on a fellow soldier for coming to terms with his issues.  I thought I was tougher and less likely to suffer PTSD or other mental health issues.

It wasn’t because I was tougher, I’d say.  I was just calmer and rational about violence and stress.  That was just in the moment, however.  I tended to become emotional and angry after.  I’ve been in fistfights, bar fights, and altercations since Iraq.  I’ve also been recalled in the military after being out for 2 years.

What changed my life for the better was realizing the problems I was having and becoming proactive.  I’d accidentally fell into the vet center through a friend.  It took years of work and medication to calm me down and put me on the right path.  The Vet Center helped me form this nonprofit and set goals.  The VAF’s where I want to work and create for the rest of my life.

There are a number of resources for veterans.  I’ll highlight the Vet Center today and more later.   Active duty military have a hard time finding them or getting involved.  I was lucky, but the word needs to be spread.  Here’s a video and a link to the Vet Center homepage.  They’re confidential.  While under the VA, they’re not required to share information.

http://www.vetcenter.va.gov/

The VAF in Social Media:

The Veterans Art Foundation has recently renewed it’s facebook and twitter accounts with a passion.  We’ve driven in more traffic and fans then we have in months.  We have over 350 followers in the Art, Veteran, and nonprofit communities.  Our twitter grade is: 88 out of 100, which is a decent start.  It measures our influence, reach, and followers ratio.

The Facebook fan page now has 163 people “liking” it.  It’s a small number to start with, but we’ve increased 150% in the last few days.   Our links have been commented and re-posted across the net.  We’ve also started a new campaign for a massive project that will bring together artists and veterans on an unheard of scale.

Our Links to help out:  Twitter.com/veteransart Facebook: Veterans Art Foundation Homepage: VAF

Thanks for caring.

THE HEART OF WAR

The VAF will be teaming up with a number of other nonprofits and veterans to put together a project that will shine light on veterans’ creativity and art therapy from modern conflicts.

We will be using e-books, the web, iPad, DVDs and online forums to create a world where people can experience veterans lives and thoughts through their own work.

The project will include photos, interviews, and film from their lives, explaining their stories or experiences readjusting to life at home.

Right now, we have the Exit 12 Dance Company interested along with The Graffiti Of War project, artists and veterans involved. The vets include so far, Army, Marines, Air Force. They’re decorate with purple hearts, bronze stars, and silver stars. They are heroes to the public, but privately different.

The project is titled, tentatively THE HEART OF WAR. We at the VAF hope to make a big impression on the world around us in the next two years or so.

Syrian Dreams

I sit alone in some filth. My hot water is out and
consequently I haven’t showered in a couple of days. I cannot
stomach luke warm or cold showers. The memories of Sinjar come
flooding back to me. Sinjar was a desolate place, nestled tightly
against a rocky mountain range. The winds blew down off the ridge
and into out base. We were at least sixty miles from nowhere. Syria
was closer than our main body of troops. Syria was an unknown. It
happened that quite a few of the weapons, bombs, snipers and
insurgents were funneled across the border from Syria. I cannot
speculate on the true origin of those items, but it was quite hard
to stem the flow. Our unit would sit across the border, looking out
over the no man’s land. The dirt before us was covered with buried
land mines looking just witting for an errant foot to trigger a
devastating explosion. The desert between the nations was lifeless.
Along the border, there were patrols driving along the imaginary
line through the sand. The Syrian border guards drove trucks not
unlike their Iraqi counterparts. Rough men stood watch over the
sands from the back of white pickups, clutching machine
guns.

Intro…

I’m sure there are scores of other combat veterans that have publicly humiliated themselves nationally by going on a syndicated news program[1] ranting about how in a four-day period, they caught the clap,[2] fought a white rapper and his posse, and knocked up a grandmother[3].    By doing this, I’m sure they pissed off their girlfriends and wives, like I did.

What you’re about to read, isn’t the typical war memoir, but a true[4] glimpse at an under achieving and overeducated grunt.  It’s often not pretty.  The language you will come across is coarse and often politically incorrect.    I may paraphrase some conversations and quotes.  The characters that inhabit my story vary.  Sometimes the antagonists aren’t insurgents hell bent on ruining your day, but the people you work for.  I would classify some of the people involved as heroes, others not so much.  I include myself in the latter group.

The story itself moves from comedy to tragedy, with ease.  You may read into the humor and lightheartedness as escapism. The book is more of a comedic take on the military experience, but don’t mistake it for satire.  Beneath the funny aspects lies sadness.   I don’t hate the military at all.  I miss the sense of purpose and camaraderie.  However many times I trash other people and leaders, I bring the same upon myself two-fold.  That’s probably what it truly is and how I deal with reality.  The dark side of wartime service balances the levity.  The good and bad die, get cancer, ruin their lives, are injured, and lose families.  I’m disabled, the Veterans Administration puts my percentile at 60%[5].    I’m mental, it would seem.

Currently, I am sipping a beer, wondering why I haven’t finished the paperwork for the Art Foundation I am forming.

You are about to enter a different type of culture.  I am dedicating this book to my fallen comrades, along with the veterans in my family who have passed.  I am sure if my grandpa had read this, he’d strangle me.  Here’s hoping they have a sense of humor up there.


[1] National Public Radio, “War Vets Try To Bridge The Divide Back Home” by Libby Lewis.  Originally aired on June 18th, 2008.

[2] It’s curable.

[3] A wonderful, caring woman who I hope is doing well.

[4] As I know it.

[5] I’ll get to that later.  As the reader can see, I like footnotes.

Memoirs

I am going to try a new tack and publish some of my memoir, which is a work in progress.  I’ll put up chapters here and there, in hopes of getting feedback.  I’ll start right now.

The memoir in question deals with my life from stepping foot in Alaska ’til now.  Army life, war, and readjustment are all covered.  The posts may not be in order.

Thanks

Mike Hawley

Executive Director