RMHS Partners with Military Arts Connection
Homes for All Veterans, a Program of Rocky Mountain Human Services, Helps Veterans Take Art Classes Through Local Program in Colorado Springs
Mike Pach (left) teaches veteran Addie Daniels (right) about photo editing software at The NeXt Us coworking space. This lesson was free to Addie through Military Arts Connection, which she accessed through Homes for All Veterans.
Veteran Addie Daniels uses photography as self-care. In August, she started taking classes with event photographer Mike Pach through a program called Military Arts Connection in Colorado Springs, which helps her to develop her skills free of cost.
“With all the stuff going on in the world, I can focus on one thing and make it as beautiful as possible,” Addie said. “It can be really relaxing to find something beautiful and just take a picture of it.”
Mike was trained on working with those in the military community so he could become part of the program. He believes art is a great support for veterans and active duty military.
“We’re not technically doing art therapy, but what we are doing is therapeutic in nature,” Mike said.
Rocky Mountain Human Services Homes for All Veterans program (HAV) became one of the first organizations to help connect the military community to the arts in El Paso and Teller counties through the Military Arts Connection.
Military Arts Connection was created by the Cultural Office of the Pikes Peak Region (COPPeR), a local nonprofit that serves as the designated local arts agency for the community. The program, which is part of the National Endowment for the Arts Creative Forces Initiative, is about leveraging the power of the arts to help local military service members, veterans and their families to strengthen community connections, learn new skills and unleash inner creativity.
Veterans and active duty military members can access local art experiences across a wide variety of creative disciplines from photography to music, poetry, dance, visual arts and cooking. HAV is provided credits from Military Arts Connection that can be given to those in the military community to pay for the classes.
“The intent is to connect military folks with local artists and local service agencies – it’s a win, win, win,” Mike explained.
Andy Vick, the COPPeR Executive Director, said it’s been amazing to see the impact of the program so far. Since Military Arts Connection got up and running in June of 2019, the program has provided over 200 artistic experiences to members of the local military community.
Addie discovered the Military Arts Connection through her internship at HAV in Colorado Springs – a part of her master’s program through Colorado State University in Pueblo. She was in the army for 7 years, deploying to Iraq to serve her country during operation Iraqi Freedom. Addie worked in food service and later served as a gunner in the back of military vehicles traveling between bases.
“The most action I received was when I came back to my people. Mortar rounds were coming in. You have to get out of your trailer and get in a bunker,” she said. “Those were the things I experienced.”
Today, Addie continues to give back to her country through social work. Though she has transitioned to civilian life, her husband still actively serves and is stationed at Hunter Army Airfield in Savannah, Georgia. The things she’s seen and the people she knows who have been hurt or lost their lives are still with her every day.
“You think that you are past certain things, but when you talk about it, it can trigger certain emotions,” Addie said. “To some degree you’re always affected.”
Photography has been her creative outlet for over a year now. She found photography during her undergraduate studies while providing addiction counseling. Her supervisor saw that Addie would get wrapped up in trying to help others and encouraged her to find a hobby to help take her mind off things. She bought a camera and never looked back.