The Arts

Those selected in this category have been successful in the art and entertainment sectors. From producing and directing movies that portray the lives of veterans and military service members, to developing programs that allow veterans to enhance their skills and talents, these individuals have pushed the envelope in the industry and have made headway for up and coming veteran artists, actors and entertainers.

Adam Driver, actor, founder of Arts in the Armed Forces, and U.S. Marine Corps veteran

Shortly after the September 11 attacks, Adam Driver joined the Marines and was assigned to Weapons Company, 1st Battalion, 1st Marines as an 81mm mortar man. He served for two years and eight months before dislocating his sternum while mountain biking and being medically discharged with the rank of Lance Corporal. He then attended the University of Indianapolis for a year before auditioning again for Juilliard. Driver said that his classmates saw him as an intimidating and volatile figure, and he struggled to fit into a lifestyle so different from the Marines. He founded Arts in the Armed Forces (AITAF), which serves all branches of the military at US installations domestically and abroad. They choose content that features diverse themes, ages, ethnicities and experiences to create a complex and unique experience for their audiences. Importantly, after each of AITAF’s events, the artists interact with the audience through a question and answer session. AITAF’s goal is not simply to provide an enjoyable evening, but to use the powerfully emotional shared experience of the arts to start conversations capable of bridging the divides between military and civilian, service member and family member, the world of the arts and the world of practical action.

@AITAF

Voices of Service, The Center for American Military Music Opportunities (CAMMO)

Voices of Service, part of the nonprofit CAMMO, is a quartet which includes retired Master Sgt. Caleb Green, retired Staff Sgt. Ron Henry, Sgt. Maj. Christal Rheams and Sgt. 1st Class Jason Hanna. Having gone through traumatic experiences themselves, Voices of Service uses their platform to show what music can do, as music therapy for service men and women who are coping with post-traumatic stress. They dedicate their songs to people whose voices were silenced because they couldn’t find peace in this side. Through their music, they honor the memory of our Fallen Warriors. Their journey and purpose has now reached a new dimension after their successful competition in America’s Got Talent, bringing national awareness to the struggle our service members, veterans and their families go through when dealing with visible and not visible injuries.

@VoicesofService

@CAMMO_Music

Darden Smith, Songwriting With Soldiers

Darden Smith is a master at making collaborative songwriting a safe place for personal expression and making creativity accessible and desirable. A singer-songwriter, arts entrepreneur and founder of the  SongwritingWith Soldiers Program, his 30-year career as a musician includes fourteen critically acclaimed albums, TV appearances on Austin City Limits, The Tonight Show, and countless concerts and shows. Along with touring in the US and Europe, he was the 2011-2013 Artist-in-Residence at Oklahoma State University’s Institute for Creativity and Innovation.

After Smith and Radney Foster wrote “Angel Flight” in 2009, a song about bringing dead service members home, Smith was approached by LifeQuest Transitions, a nonprofit group that helps wounded soldiers adapt to civilian life, about hosting a retreat for soldiers in Colorado. In 2010 he began working with veterans and soldiers, and it went so well that he started SongwritingWith Soldiers.

Founded in 2012 by Smith and Mary Judd, SongwritingWith Soldiers organizes weekend retreats during which professional songwriters are paired with veterans and active duty service members who share stories about their experiences of combat and the return home. Working collaboratively, the musicians and soldiers turn those stories into songs. SongwritingWith Soldiers has held 40+ retreats at locations including Texas, New York, Virginia, Colorado, Arizona, Tennessee, and California.

@dardensmith

@songwritingwith

Jennifer Marshall, actor, host, and U.S. Navy veteran

Jennifer Marshall served in the United States Navy from the age of 17 to 22, honorably separating as a second class petty officer (E-5). She worked as an aircraft handler, forklift operator, logistics specialist, and also worked on the ships aft repair locker fire team and security defense force. One of her most important collateral duties was working for the USS Theodore Roosevelt’s Sexual Assault Victim Intervention (SAVI) program, teaching policies and procedures to new sailors checking in onboard and being available to advocate for victims of sexual assault. She earned a Navy/Marine Corps Achievement medal, my Enlisted Aviation Warfare Specialist (EAWS) pin, and was Junior Sailor of the Quarter. She was also congressionally honored by Congressman Scott McInnis (R-CO) for her service in the military and volunteer activities. She completed a deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Many of the traits she learned in the military have served her well in the entertainment world—preparation, always being early, top notch organizational skills and having a tireless work ethic. Marshall was chosen as Miss February 2015 in the Pin-Ups for Vets calendar and has been featured in November from 2016 onwards. She has visited VA hospitals and nursing homes, attended numerous veteran events, and participated in many fundraisers helping the non-profit raise thousands. She has appeared in numerous movies and TV shows such as Stranger Things, NCIS, American Princess, Hawaii-Five-O, and Colony.

@Jenn13Jenn13

Brian Dix, composer, conductor, and U.S. Marine Corps veteran

Major Brian Dix, USMC, Retired, has been a conductor and composer for over 30 years and served as the Director of the US Marine Drum and Bugle Corps, “The Commandant’s Own” from Marine Barracks 8th & I, Washington, DC. After being appointed the fourth Director of “The Commandant’s Own,” The United States Marine Drum & Bugle Corps in 1998, it was his personal goal to expand the Corps’ extensive repertoire by composing original music honoring American heroes. Conveying the musical message of the Marine Corps, some 170 personal works have been witnessed by countless millions through live worldwide performances and national television broadcasts. During his tenure he led musical presentations for world leaders, dignitaries, heads of state, including World War Memorials on Iwo Jima and Belleau Wood France, the Norwegian Military Tattoo, among many others. In 2011 and 2014, Major Dix, conducted the drum and bugle Corps alongside the New York Philharmonic at the Lincoln Center. Major Dix was sworn in as an “Honorary Navy Hospital Corpsman” by the Surgeon General of the Navy in recognition of his service to Naval Medicine through organizing blood drives and the composition of Corpsman Up, a march dedicated to Navy “Docs.”

@BrianDixMusic

Jacques Heim, Artistic Director, DIAVOLO

Jacques Heim is the Artistic Director for DIAVOLO’s Veteran Project, a unique style of movement and dance to help restore veterans’ physical, mental, and emotional strengths through workshops and public performances all around the country.  Since its founding in 2016, more than 500 veterans from Los Angeles and Kansas State University have participated and grown as a member of the DIAVOLO Veteran Project. 

In addition to founding DIAVOLO and serving as its Artistic Director, Heim has worked extensively in dance, theater, television and special events throughout the world. In 2017, he created five new performances based on DIAVOLO creations for NBC’s America’s Got Talent, becoming one of the top ten contestants in AGT’s finale at Hollywood’s Dolby Theater.

Jacques Heim was born and raised in Paris, where his earliest artistic experience came from street performing. He attended Middlebury College (B.F.A. in Theater, Dance, and Film), the University of Surrey in England (Certificate for Analysis and Criticism of Dance), and the California Institute for the Arts (M.F.A. in Choreography).

@heim_jacques

@DIAVOLO_LA