Veterans impress at creative arts competition


PLAINS TOWNSHIP, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) – Creative arts cover a whole lot more than painting or drawing. Some local veterans proved that on thursday. They took part in a competition that showcased their talents. Eyewitness News Reporter Mark Hiller had a front-row seat for the event.

If Ronald Sallard was seeking attention, he sure got it. The Navy vet performed in the senior dance category at the 11th Annual Creative Arts Competition at the Veterans Administration Medical Center near Wilkes-Barre. Ronnie, as his friends call him, is a community living center resident at the V.A. 

Dance is just part of this competition. It includes dozens of categories covering painting to poetry to music and everything in between. It all stirs emotion whether it sparks laughter or tears. Mr. Sallard said, “There’s a couple of people that had me crying in there. I was crying at a couple of people’s performance.” Navy Veteran Virginia Bealer sang “My Immortal” and “How Do I Live Without You”. “I did something and people enjoyed it, you know. So it made me feel good,” she said.

Drawing on equal parts creativity and courage, awards sort of become secondary to these veterans for what this competition allows them to achieve. The competition is even open to vets in the V.A.’s dementia clinic. V.A. Medical Center Chief of Rehab & Prosthetics Denise Redenski said, “A lot of the activities will be reminiscent-based and to be able to perform like this restores some of that independence and some of that positive feeling,” she said. “It gives them a feeling of self-worth.”

Creative achievements that go beyond a blue ribbon. “It helps me get rid of the related stresses of body, mind and soul,” said Mr. Sallard. First place winners will be entered into the national creative arts festival. It’s happening October 28 – November 3 in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

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