A hearty Saturday Salute goes this week to Alicia Wicht of Grand Island Veterans Affairs Medical Center, who is coordinating the Veterans Arts Competition locally, encouraging veterans to pursue creative outlets.
Entries in the contest will be displayed in the Nebraska Building at the Nebraska State Fair from Aug. 27 to Sept. 6.
Veterans interested in participating must be enrolled to receive care at a central/western Nebraska VA location prior to entering the competition.
Veterans are welcome to submit entries in up to three separate categories: applied art, creative writing and kit (wood building, fabric art, etc.).
Wicht said there are many known therapeutic benefits to pursuing creative outlets for the veterans.
“There’s a lot of relaxation that goes with creating something new. Hobbies, in general, provide a way for mindfulness and meditation in practice,” she said. “Just working through trauma and things like that through art has been beneficial for a lot of our veterans.”
The works of art can be personal, and reflect a veteran’s experience in combat.
“It’s been a very good outlet for them, rather than keeping it all bottled up inside,” Wicht said.
This will be the second year the Grand Island VA hospital is coordinating the event. Deadline for all submissions and entry forms is Aug. 13. The local entries will be judged in the national contest in October and November.
We also salute the Military Order of the Purple Heart Auxiliary G.I. Chapter and the American Legion Auxiliary District 6, which are donating art and display supplies for the contest.
Financial contributions continuing for cemetery project
We also salute the Community Redevelopment Authority for its contribution of $50,000 to the state veterans cemetery project, along with all those individual contributors who have helped the Hall County Hero Flight Association in its fundraising.
The group has raised roughly $430,000 ahead of the project’s Aug. 1 deadline.
The Hall County Board of Commissioners on July 6 approved providing whatever funds are needed to meet the match through inheritance tax funds, which would be repaid using lodging tax dollars via Grand Island Tourism.
The project, funded by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs via its State Veterans Cemetery Grant program, seeks to expand Grand Island’s Veterans Home Cemetery on Capital Avenue into a national site.
Nebraska has only three state veterans cemetery sites — Alliance, Omaha and Maxwell.
A site in Grand Island will help to close the travel gap.
Donations for the project still may be sent to the Hall County Hero Flight Association, 131 S. Locust St., Grand Island, NE 68801, or dropped off at any Five Points Bank location or at Hall County Courthouse, 111 W. First St., Grand Island.