The Veterans’ Arts & Wellness Network is a new Roku and internet channel for veterans sponsored by the Veterans Suicide Prevention Channel (VSPChannel). The Austin Veterans Arts Festival (AVAFEST) launched October 16 with an array of shows and entertainment featuring veterans and their family members strutting their artistic selves. They are acting, singing, dancing and playing music 24 hours a day in celebration, using the arts to promote healing. The idea of AVAFEST came from Glenn Towery, the founder and chairman of the VSPChannel and a Gold Medalist of the Department of Veterans Affairs National Creative Arts Festival held in Milwaukee in 2014.
Towery treasured what he experienced during that festival, yet lamented the fact that many more veterans could not participate because it was a judged event. As a Vietnam Combat Veteran who suffers with PTSD, he understood the importance of getting veterans to practice the arts to promote healing. In 2017, he created a national arts festival that all veterans could participate in, which is now called AVAFEST.
The first AVAFEST was a small weekend venue held in 2018. In 2019, with the support of city officials, departments, and independent businesses, AVAFEST appeared all over Austin. Throughout the monthlong festival, there were concerts at local bars and clubs, art exhibits, dance recitals, theater productions, poetry readings and comedy shows.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, AVAFEST didn’t take place in 2020. However, with the prompting of some city officials, we decided to produce a virtual AVAFEST 2021 to keep the community safe and entertain them at the same time. That led the VSPChannel to acquire its own ROKU channel and online viewing site.
Now, people all over the world can see talented veterans and their family members perform in a variety of events. We are using the arts to promote healing and wellness and to try and help prevent suicides for veterans, military personnel and their family members.
AVAFEST will broadcast daily until November 14, but the Veterans’ Arts and Wellness Network will continue to broadcast year round. We hope everyone will watch the talented performers at AVAFEST 2021 on Roku and search for the Veterans’ Arts and Wellness Network. If you don’t have Roku, don’t worry. You can watch veterans perform online, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at our website: https://veteransartsandwellnessnetwork.org/watch-live/
Also visit: www.vspchannel.vet and www.avafest.org
The Veterans Suicide Prevention Channel has been endorsed by the following organizations: The Military Order of The Purple Heart, The DAV, The VFW, The American Legion and AMVETS