Using Art to Help Veterans and Military Families Heal and Reintegrate
Marine Corps Veteran Chris Cline longed for the camaraderie he experienced during his service from 1992 to 1997, and that’s how he discovered the Armed Services Arts Partnership (ASAP). ASAP is a program that helps veterans improve their overall well-being and social connectedness. After learning about the effectiveness of the program’s stand-up comedy classes and performances, Cline became involved. He explains that he struggled with the lack of camaraderie outside of the military and didn’t realize how helpful it was to talk about things while he was serving. The ASAP classes provide not only camaraderie but much more, including the opportunity to perform and make others laugh.
Cline says “It is amazing being on stage and listening to others laugh and having a good time. I am a completely different person now versus a year ago and can easily say finding ASAP and continuing to be involved is a major reason for that. Spend a day with ASAP and you will completely understand.”
About The Armed Services Arts Partnership
The Armed Services Arts Partnership (ASAP) was founded in 2015 Sam Pressler, with the aim of using arts education to improve the well-being of veterans, service members, military families, and caregivers. Their classes include a variety of disciplines, like creative writing, acting, improv, stand-up comedy, music, and visual arts. Even better, they are free of charge, thanks to partnerships with local arts organizations and community centers. They are proudly supported through the NFL-BWF Salute to Service partnership, which promotes healthy lifestyles and fosters greater community engagement within the veteran population.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, ASAP provided virtual arts programming to veterans in 45 states and five countries. The organization’s most popular program is the six-week Comedy Bootcamp, which culminates in a live performance and helps veterans develop their sense of humor and cope with stress and trauma, while also fostering a sense of community. ASAP is actively expanding its evidence-based arts programming to increase social support and well-being for hundreds of veterans, service members, military family members, and caregivers in Washington, DC, San Diego, Indianapolis, and Hampton Roads, which includes towns in Virginia and North Carolina building on the success of the organization’s existing programs.
Research Shows Mental Health Benefits of Community Engagement
Research published by The Armed Services Art Partnership supported by The Bob Woodruff Foundation has shown that ASAP’s programs have a positive impact on veterans’ mental health and well-being. Veterans who participate in ASAP’s programs report a significant reduction in stress, depression, and anxiety, as well as an increased sense of purpose, social connectedness, and overall life satisfaction.
Emily Krause, Senior Program Officer at the Bob Woodruff Foundation said, “ASAP has not only given service members, veterans, and their families the opportunity to build community and tell their stories, but it has also demonstrated the real impact that community arts engagement has on veterans’ resilience and well-being.” Through its work, ASAP is helping to bridge the gap between the military and civilian communities and promote understanding and healing.
Learn more about ASAP and our NFL-BWF Healthy Lifestyles and Creating Community (HLCC) partnership here.