Local Veteran Wins Gold Medal At National Creative Arts Festival - Wilkes-Barre VA Medical Center
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Wilkes-Barre VA Medical Center


Local Veteran Wins Gold Medal At National Creative Arts Festival

December 4, 2013

This year, Veterans representing the Wilkes-Barre VA Medical Center, earned top honors in the National Veterans Creative Arts Festival. VA medical facilities incorporate creative arts into their recreation therapy programs to further the rehabilitation of inpatients and outpatients. This annual competition recognizes the progress and recovery made through that therapy.

Among the awardees is Kimberly Heartsong, a retired Air Force Veteran who served in the Gulf War achieving the rank of Lt. Colonel. Heartsong, from Breinigsville, PA, earned the Gold Medal in the National Competition for her humorous short story “Red Toenail Polish.”

“It is a significant story about me and being a woman, a leader in a man’s world,” said Heartsong. “My red toenail polish let me still be a woman while wearing steel-toed combat boots.”

Many Veterans use art as a form of therapy in conjunction with more traditional treatments. For Heartsong, the creativity helps her look forward and gets her through dark times.

“I was involved in an arts-as-therapy program in North Carolina. It taught me that creativity can heal the darkness that haunts me from five deployments in the Middle East,” said Heartsong.

Amie O’Malia, Recreation Therapist at the Wilkes-Barre VA Medical Center, works closely with Veterans who submit art to the competition.

“Our programs are designed to allow Veterans to express themselves artistically in a safe and judgment-free environment,” said O’Malia. “Programs that offer a creative outlet tend to allow for greater expression of feelings and increased self-esteem. It’s all about how creativity can promote healing.”

Veterans who are interested in participating in next year’s arts competition can contact Amie O’Malia, Recreation Therapist at (570) 824-3521 extension 7429.  For more information regarding the Creative Arts Festival visit http://www.va.gov/opa/speceven/caf/index.asp. For more information regarding the Wilkes-Barre VA Medical Center visit http://www.wilkes-barre.va.gov/.


For Additional Information Contact: Gail Benner, Public Affairs (570) 821-7237
E-Mail: Gail.ziegler@va.gov, 1111 East End Boulevard, Wilkes-Barre,PA 18711




The Wilkes-Barre VA Medical Center (WBVAMC) is a 173-bed, teaching facility located in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania.  Each year, WBVAMC serves over 40,000 Veterans in approximately 18 counties in Pennsylvania and New York with over 378,000 outpatient visits.  In addition to the main facility, the facility operates five Community Based Outpatient Clinics which are located in Allentown, Williamsport, Sayre, Bangor and Tobyhanna, Pennsylvania.