The USVAP grew out of founder James-Kimo Williams’ experiences as a soldier in Vietnam in 1970. Through playing his guitar to cope with the war and forming a band with fellow soldiers to perform at remote fire-bases and hospital wards, he realized the power of music not only to entertain, but also to soothe soldiers experiencing the stresses of combat.
His desire to share his experiences through the arts was inspired by a 1998 trip to Vietnam that enabled him to discover truths about himself as a soldier and as a citizen of the world that he returned to after the war. After returning, he created ArtSynergy, a non-profit organization dedicated to creating collaborative arts projects that facilitated opportunities for art expression between Vietnamese and American artists and programming arts presentations that engaged audiences to better understand the cultural dynamics between Vietnam and the United States.
With Carol Williams, also a veteran and musician, he reemphasized the mission in 2009 to provide art resources to Veterans medical facilities so other veterans might use art for personal expression and changed the name to the United States Veterans Art Program (USVAP).
Executive Director / President