Until a few years ago, Todd Burkhardt had spent his whole working life in the military. Twenty-eight years. His last military job was running the ROTC program on the Indiana University campus. When he retired from that and moved to civilian life, and a civilian job, also on campus, it was a challenge. He was used to being in charge of things. Making things happen. Now he was…running a lot of meetings.
The job – which he does like, by the way – is as the Director of Campus Partnerships at the Indiana University Center for Rural Engagement. He helps faculty, staff, and students connect with IU’s resources to improve the well-being of rural Indiana. In this position, he’d worked Lauren Daugherty, an art therapist at the Eskenazi Museum of Art. One day, she invited Todd and all his colleagues to an open studio event. “Come on over,” she said. “I’ll take you through some art-based activities that help with stress. It’ll be fun!” So they went. She’d laid out a bunch of materials, there were various prompts for drawing and even some group activities.
Todd was surprised at his reaction to the whole thing. He was drawn to it. And it occurred to him that it could help other veterans. So he brought some people together and started Creative Arts for Vets. According to its website, CAV “aims to support veterans, service members, and military-connected populations of all ages and abilities through the arts and arts-based approaches that promote connectedness and improve mental health and wellbeing.”
This week, Todd and I talk about his life in the military, and what happens when veterans get in a room together and do art.
Inner States is produced and edited by me, Alex Chambers, with support from Violet Baron, Eoban Binder, Mark Chilla, Avi Forrest, LuAnn Johnson, Jack Lindner, Yané Sanchez Lopez, Sam Schemenauer, Payton Whaley, and Kayte Young. Our Executive Producer is John Bailey.
Our theme song is by Amy Oelsner and Justin Vollmar. We have additional music from the artists at Universal Production Music.