To increase the representation of veterans in the arts community.
We will achieve this mission by considering the following objectives:
To provide "Artistic Tools" (musical instruments, painting supplies, art scholarships, cameras, computers, etc.) to wounded service members; and to bring visibility to the power of art and how it might bring cathartic inner solace for those Americans who have sacrificed in service to their country.
To provide "Artistic Tools" (through veteran initiatives) to selected individuals who wish to continue their pursuit of artistic expression but are unable to do so, due to some aspect directly related to the consequences of war. To provide employment and resume/portfolio building opportunities to veterans actively involved in muisc and music production.
To provide opportunities for US Veteran artists to collaborate with Vietnamese artists on artistic projects; to offer encouragement and support for the collaborative process particularly across cultural boundaries; and to positively bring together new and existing audiences to discover or rediscover the cultural and artistic traditions of both countries.
The United States Veterans Arts Program (USVAP) is a Chicago-based non-profit 501c-3 that has melded contemporary veterans issues with community-based support, in order to highlight one of the most crucial concerns of our times: improving the health of the military and veteran population that suffers not only from physical disabilities, but also from PTSD and other mental health needs.
USVAP believes that art can address many of these issues.By encouraging and supporting an aesthetic response to the military experience, we hope to emphasize the diversity of the veteran population and to create a new identity of veterans as people who are capable, gifted, and resilient, and also that they often possess the very voice that society needs to hear and to heed.We have received support from public and private organizations including Operation to Support our Troops, TriWest Healthcare Alliance, Disabled American Veterans, Wounded Warriors, Coalition to Salute America’s Heroes, American Airlines, Illinois Arts Council, and many others.
Through our Artistic Tools® program, we have presented resources to both individual veterans and to VA Medical Centers. We are currently developing and broadcasting USVAP programs on Chicago Cable Access Network.Ultimately, we strive to encourage veterans to use their innate, intuitive pursuit of art: not necessarily as a profession, but as part of the universal human drive to create a powerful form of communication, one that contributes not only to the arts community, but to our society in general.
The idea for USVAP began in 1998, when Vietnam Veteran and musician Kimo Williams returned to Lai Khe, where he was stationed with the US Army 25th Combat Engineer Battalion in 1970. Originally, the purpose of that trip back to Vietnam was to complete work on his composition “Symphony for the Sons of Nam”. However, his journey became the inspiration to create an organization that would provide opportunities for American and Vietnamese artists to collaborate on projects.
Since then, USVAP has sponsored traditional and contemporary concerts by performing artists, master classes and multi-media events. In 2008, USVAP re-defined its’ mission in order to include and encourage veterans of Afghanistan and Iraq to take up the cause of artistic expression. As Kimo stated about his military experience: “The first time I came to Vietnam, I brought my M-16. The next time I came, I brought my guitar. I liked the second trip much better than the first.”
USVAP exists in the hope that other veterans can also make that “second journey”, and share their experience with the rest of us through art.
Board of Directors
KIMO WILLIAMS - (President/Executive Director)
- Vietnam Veteran (1970)
- Nationally and internationally recognized composer and performer
- BA Berklee College of Music, MA Webster University
- Associate Professor Columbia College Chicago, Music Department
Composer of several symphonic works performed internationally
- Composed "Buffalo Soldiers", commissioned by the West Point Academy to celebrate their bi-centennial
- Produced and Recorded four Compact Discs of original symphonic and jazz compositions
- Served as Executive Director of the National Vietnam Veterans Art Museum from 2003-2004
- Cofounder and member of the Lt. Dan Band with actor/musicican Gary Sinise
- 2007 Fulbright award recipient
CAROL WILLIAMS - (Vice president/Treasurer)
- Veteran US Army (1978-1985)
- Associates Degree, Berklee College of Music; MA Music, Northeastern Illinois University; BA Psychology, St Martins College
A partner and collaborator with the "Kimotion" big band, the Little Beck Music label, symphonic works composed by Kimo, the "Lt. Dan Band", as well as with USVAP projects.
Recorded four CDs of original music, with radio play on dozens of Folk and Independent stations throughout the US.
- BSN in nursing, taught at Robert Morris College in Chicago, works in the Emergency Department of a downtown Chicago hospital
Member of several veterans' organizations including the National Women's Veterans United and Veterans for Peace
HIEP DO - (Board Member)
- Senior Assistant to the Executive Office, World Trade Center Institute of Maryland
- Extensive experience in interpreting and translation; has worked with the U.S. Department of State, the White House, the U.S. Embassy in Vietnam, the Office of International Criminal Justice, and USVAP
- Former member of the U.S. Merchant Marine Cadet Corps
NISSAN WASFIE - (Board member)
- Full-time lecturer in graduate and undergraduate Arts, Entertainment, and Media Management courses, Columbia College Chicago
- Faculty advisor to the student Entrepreneurship Club and Investment Club, Columbia College Chicago
- Art and Technology Consultant, Murphy Rabb, Inc., Chicago
SCOTT STEINER - (Board Member)
- Music Editor, Composer and Sound Designer for Film
- Sound Engineer for Gary Sinise and the Lt. Dan Band
- Sound Enginner working with acts ranging from Nancy Wilson to Chik Corea
- Production Management for live performance with Wynton Marsalis