Supporting Our Military and Veterans Through the Arts | Briefing Session

Recorded On: 04/07/2021

About This Session

Advocates will dive deeper into the potential expansion of the use of creative arts therapies (CATs), increased funding through the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Defense for CATs, expressive arts therapy, and arts-based programming. This session will provide talking points to encourage lawmakers to support legislation that improves access to evidence-based complementary and integrative treatments and telehealth.


Judy Simpson, American Music Therapy Association
Marete Wester, Americans for the Arts
Bryan Doerries, Theater of War Productions

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Judy Simpson

Director of Government Relations

American Music Therapy Association

Judy Simpson, a board certified music therapist and the Director of Government Relations for the American Music Therapy Association (AMTA), represents the music therapy profession with legislators and agencies on the state and federal level.  Since 2005, Judy has led AMTA’s national state recognition initiative in collaboration with the Certification Board for Music Therapists. She has presented and participated in advocacy trainings and events in 28 states and has contributed to legislative and regulatory language in 40 states. Prior to her work with AMTA, Judy’s 17 years of clinical experience involved developing music therapy programs in hospital settings, including physical rehabilitation, oncology, labor and delivery, psychiatry, ICU, and general medicine.

Marete Wester

Senior Director, Arts Policy and National Initiative for Arts & Health in the Military

Americans for the Arts

Marete Wester, M.S. is Senior Director of Arts Policy and Impact at Americans for the Arts (AFTA) where she advances cross-sector policy issues and strategic alliances nationally and internationally. Her portfolio includes arts and military/Veterans issues, international engagement, as well as public health among others. She helped initiate and now directs the National Initiative for Arts and Health Across the Military (NIAHM)—a collaborate effort to advance arts and creativity as tools for health for all service members, Veterans, their families and caregivers. An experienced administrator of cross-sector collaborations, she serves as AFTA’s Project Director for the Creative Forces: NEA Military Healing Arts Network, and manages major strategic alliance relationships, including stewarding two Memorandums of Agreement with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. She holds a bachelor's of music performance degree from Wilkes University, PA and a master’s of science degree in Arts Administration from Drexel University in Philadelphia. 

Bryan Doerries

Artistic Director

Theater of War Productions

Bryan Doerries is a New York-based writer, director, and translator who currently serves as Artistic Director of Theater of War Productions, a company that presents dramatic readings of seminal plays and texts to frame community conversations about pressing issues of public health and social justice. A self-described evangelist for ancient stories and their relevance to our lives today, Doerries uses age-old approaches to help individuals and communities heal from trauma and loss. Doerries’ books include The Theater of War: What Ancient Greek Tragedies Can Teach Us Today (Knopf), The Odyssey of Sergeant Jack Brennan (Pantheon), All That You’ve Seen Here is God (Vintage), and Oedipus Trilogy (forthcoming from Vintage). Among his awards, he has received an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Kenyon College, and in March 2017, he was named Public Artist in Residence for the City of New York. For more information about his work, please visit:


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Supporting Our Military and Veterans Through the Arts | Training Session
Supporting Our Military and Veterans Through the Arts | Training Session CAPTIONED
National Arts Action Summit Workshop Survey