Although the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) was
created in 1930, America’s care of its veterans goes back to the Revolutionary
War. And at his second inaugural address, President Abraham Lincoln renewed
America’s promise to “care for him who shall have borne the battle
and for his widow and his orphan.” This care extends not only to veterans
physical health, but also to their emotional well-being. This is why the Journal
of Rehabilitation Research & Development (JRRD) continues to feature artwork
selected from among the entries of the National Veterans Creative Arts Festival.
The National Veterans Creative Arts Festival is the culmination of a yearlong
fine arts talent competition open to all veterans receiving care at VA medical
facilities. The festival spotlights the artistic talents of America’s
veterans, while providing a nurturing environment for veterans to heal both
physically and emotionally.
This year’s cover art Relight the Flame is the work of Paul Fujinaga,
a festival participant and Army veteran who served in 361st Signal Battalion,
II Corps, in Vietnam from 1967 to 1969. Paul was one of nearly 3,000 veterans
who entered the performing and visual arts competition in 2002 and, in doing
so, received the healing benefits of art therapy.
Relight the Flame was written in conjunction with a project created in a VA
art therapy group, at the Honolulu VAMROC. Fujinaga’s inspiration for
the piece came from the first battle casualty he witnessed in Vietnam. Although
Paul didn’t know it at the time, witnessing that casualty made him lose
complete faith in humanity.
Made of beach stone and acrylic, Relight the Flame symbolizes Paul’s struggle
to quiet the demons that haunt his sleep, a result of service to his country