WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — On this week’s Veterans Voices, a creative arts competition at a local V.A. that acts as both therapy and inspiration.

The competition is yet another way to recognize the progress and recovery made through arts therapy.

An annual creative arts competition gave dozens of local veterans a chance to show off their creative side. The display in the lobby of the V.A. in Wilkes-Barre features, drawings, paintings, and even sculptures, some expressing joy, others pain, but all are an outlet for local heroes to show off a hidden talent.

One veteran says painting keeps him laser-focused.

“I can channel that emotion into the art I’m working on and that helps relieve stress, relieves the pain, gets rid of the depression, it’s a great outlet for that,” said Veteran Josh Bohinski.

“It’s not intimidating. It’s sort of a nice approach to bring art in a non-intimidating way, for them to relax and express themselves and their emotions, so it’s a nice, therapeutic process,” stated Kristie Kendrick, recreation therapist at V.A. Medical Center.

The annual competition wasn’t limited to artwork. Categories included music, writing, and drama. Nearly 40 pieces were entered. Judges picked first, second, and third-place winners. All three will go on to compete in an arts competition in Denver.

Organizers say the competition was open to all veterans at the V.A., including those in the nursing home center and those with physical disabilities. Veterans agree competitions like this inspire other vets to try something new.

“You’ll see veterans all the time going through the display, admiring all the work. And a lot of times it may inspire someone else or it may just cheer someone up or make their day,” said Bohinski.

The winners won’t be posted until January, and the display will stay up until at least February.