Reintegrate veterans into their communities through the arts.
It is said that change, trauma and loss can breed growth, creativity, and discovery. The veterans and military families who engage in the Armed Services Arts Partnership (ASAP)'s programs know this to be true. But, it also holds true for our founder, Sam Pressler. After losing a family member to suicide while in high school, Sam turned to comedic expression to cope. When he later learned about mental health challenges affecting veterans through his college research at William & Mary, Sam felt compelled to act. While at W&M, he launched the country’s first comedy class for veterans, as well as the largest veterans writing group in the Southeast. Within a year, a supportive community formed - one that gave veterans permission to process and express, connect and grow, heal and serve others.
After receiving the Echoing Green Fellowship, Sam converted the student organization into ASAP, a 501(c)3 non-profit. Today, ASAP is thriving in the D.C. Metro area and Hampton Roads, VA, serving thousands of veterans and military families, and empowering its alumni to become artistic leaders in their communities. As a result of our impact in the communities we serve, we have received significant attention. We have performed at The White House, have been featured on a PBS documentary, and have been recognized by Forbes 30 Under 30 list for "Social Entrepreneurship."
The reintegration of our nation's veterans is not just a veterans issue. It involves veterans and civilians, community arts organizations and local health providers, military recruiting and VA care. It requires social, physical, and artistic outlets just as much as it demands traditional medical care. Through our collaborative, community-driven, and deeply focused program model, we are forging a new path for veterans to reintegrate into civilian life, and for our communities to welcome them home.
Community - We foster lasting, supportive relationships between veterans and civilians alike, transforming those who may feel isolated into a community of friends.
Trust, Honesty & Openness - Through a community rooted in trust, we facilitate an authentic, honest, and constructive dialogue.
Respect - We choose to treat each other as peers, and act as such, despite our differences in experiences and perspectives.
Responsibility - We come prepared to engage, listen, and provide feedback and support.
Creativity - As a community, we embrace the creative process, and fully explore our expressive possibilities.
Humor - We find humor in our jokes, our shortcomings, and our community.
Lifelong Learning - We strive to learn from our instructors, our peers, and ourselves. As we grow as individuals and artists, we also grow as a community.