Healing Veterans Through Art

National Endowment for the Arts: Creative Forces National Resource Center

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One Place for Everyone in Creative Forces Community

Creative Forces is a one-of-a-kind collaboration between the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the Department of Defense (DoD) and Veterans Affairs. Administered by Americans for the Arts (AFTA), Creative Forces works to address the unique needs of military and veteran populations exposed to trauma, as well as their families and caregivers. Creative Forces also provides services and programs to promote wellness and quality of life through the arts for trauma-exposed populations and their families. The organization selected us to create its first-ever National Resource Center website dedicated exclusively to Creative Forces, which serves as a centralized online community for creative arts therapists and community arts practitioners.

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An Accessible and Beautiful Website

One thing that came out of our research that the website imagery must be sensitive since this is a veteran-focused program. So our team decided to stay away from too much real photography or typically patriotic imagery. Instead, our designers hand drew the sketches you see across the site now, adding a human feel to the design. Also, as a government-funded site, this website had a firm accessibility requirement. Many people think that accessibility means you have to compromise on the design, but that’s not true. The website was built for Section 508 compliance, yet its design is modern and beautiful.

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A Digital Art Exhibition

Creative Forces had planned an art exhibition at the Kennedy Center to showcase the veterans’ artwork. But at the beginning of 2020, the pandemic hit, and our design and development teams worked to reimagine the exhibition as a digital journey. The outcome? An immersive experience where users not only see the artwork but learn the story behind each piece, and they are guided through the pathway to healing veterans go through with the program.

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Connecting Internal Stakeholders

The Creative Forces website also needed to serve as a place for the community of practitioners to connect. A portal where they could exchange best practices, share successes of their programs, and ultimately better the lives of service members and their families. The internal platform our team worked on allows the community to access resources, collaborate on documents in real-time, share documents, and more. We created a custom integration of Microsoft 365 into the Drupal site and configured collaboration features powered by Microsoft and Drupal’s functionality. The administrators can manage a group’s access to resources, dashboard configuration, and add quick links​ in the intranet. Each user customizes their dashboard according to their needs.

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