Connecting veterans and civilians through writing workshops

Community building artwork (CBAW) is a veterans service organization that builds healthy, connected communities through free online art and writing workshops led by professional artists. Veterans and civilians share creative expression, mutual understanding, and support with the mission to ensure that no Veteran bears the burden of service alone. In partnership with Blue Star familiesCBAW offers writing workshops two Thursdays a month.

Writing workshops forge connection and community

Military spouses founded Blue Star Families (BSF) in 2009 to enable military and veteran families to thrive by connecting them with their civilian neighbors, both individuals and organizations, to create strong communities of mutual support.

Longtime BSF member Joan Green explains how connection builds resilience through writing, art, and relationships.

“CBAW is much more than a non-profit that offers writing and art workshops,” Green said. “The facilitators and participants have formed a strong bond which to me is much more like long-time family and friends than just people on Zoom. I try to schedule my week so that I can be free to attend each workshop. I am discovering my voice and learning artistic skills that have given me a productive outlet to process a lot of unwanted information and emotional upheaval. I am healing and I hope to help others heal.” I can’t imagine my life without this refrain that echoes in my head every day.

Writing and resilience

The bi-monthly online workshop for military families and caregivers blends poetry, community and the science of resilience. Laura Van Prooyen, author, educator, editor and workshop leader, selects a poem for each session. Together, participants read, respond, write and can choose to share.

Numerous studies and decades of research have revealed the link between expressive writing and improved health. Writing provides a private space for people to reinforce positive experiences, display gratitude, and explore and articulate painful truths.

No experience necessary

Over the past decade, CBAW workshops have reached thousands of service members, veterans, and military and civilian health care workers struggling with the social isolation and loss of connection that often accompanies emotional injury and post-traumatic stress. CBAW creates virtual spaces that allow healthcare workers to slow their minds, reflect on difficult circumstances, and use ordinary language in extraordinary ways.

The free online workshop for military families, veterans and caregivers meets select Thursdays at 3:30 p.m. ET, via Zoom.

Visit CBAW website and the full program of events.

The sharing of any non-VA information does not constitute an endorsement of products and services by VA. Veterans should verify information with the offering organization.