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Say “Thank you for your service” with the gift of opportunity. Donate to the Support a Military Veteran Artist Grant fund.

Your donation will help a Clear22 Artist go from hobbyist to professional. It will provide opportunity and hope to those who’ve served us well. Through the Support a Military Veteran Artist Grant Program monies will be awarded to a Veteran or Military Dependent for a specific need in their chosen art or craft.

A message from Jodie Cain Smith, Army Spouse, 18 years and counting

Jodie & Jay, 2009, Fort Hood, Redeployment Ceremony #3

In July 2015, my husband’s career as an Army Armor Officer came to an abrupt end. The diagnosis was relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis. The prognosis was undetermined. The cause of the disease was “environmental factors in Iraq.” After seven years enlisted with the Army National Guard, fifteen years as an Armor officer, and five combat deployments, he was deemed medically unfit to serve. The Army has no way to treat multiple sclerosis, so Jay was given his medical retirement and sent on his way.

Jay and the boy hanging out while the Army packed us up for the last time.

Now what?

That question—now what—was constant on our lips. For three years we pondered what the rest of his and our life would be. After over two years of job hunting, he landed a barely above minimum wage job at a local tennis center. But, the physical and emotional demands of the job quickly ravaged his health, leading his neurologist to encourage him to resign before “racing into a wheelchair.” So, he resigned. At 43, my husband can no longer work.

Now what? Take two.

That question arose again. One answer had been eating away at Jay for years, and the realization of true disability retirement brought that thought front and center. 

Veterans commit suicide at an alarming rate and no one seems to care enough.

Living with chronic pain. Changes in cognitive functioning due to traumatic brain injuries. Maneuvering through endless bureaucracy in search of medical care. Feelings of loss for the life he once knew, loss of the trust men and women placed in him when he stood in the uniform, and loss of the brotherhood he once had. Lack of a worthy purpose—a purpose akin to serving his fellow Americans. 

Financial burdens, worrying about how to keep paying the bills, put food in the belly, all while making half (at most) of their Active Duty pay, and that’s only if a soldier is medically retired or served long enough to qualify for retirement pay. Simply put, a Veteran isn’t going to buy art supplies rather than food for his kids or a roof over her head. Those creative pursuits will wait for an easier time.

Jay and I are figuring out how to live on 50%, but others are far less fortunate.

Jay refused to go down the dark hole of depression and suicide. Instead, he drug out his pen and ink sets, he taught himself to paint, and he began learning woodworking. He knew other Veterans were doing the same. They were and are creating to cope. He also knew creative writing saved my life during deployment number one-too-many.

Jay and the boy at his drawing table. So sorry to disappoint, but the boy is not selling his fabulous creations yet.

Jay identified with the 22 a day. Twenty-two men and women—soldiers, marines, sailors, and airmen—take their lives every day. Jay understood why. 

So, rather than join the 22, he decided to do something for them, for himself, and for his brothers and sisters in arms, for their spouses and children. He founded Clear22 to fill the need of Veteran artists like himself. They need a tribe. They need professional knowledge and assistance. They need exposure and opportunity to prove to themselves and others that their lives did not end with their military careers. They can still make a difference.

Clear22 is Jay’s way of reaching out to his fellow Veterans in hopes of clearing the obstacles, because the obstacles Veterans face often lead to suicide. The current average is down to twenty per day but that is still horribly high. 

Now, we need you to reach out, too.

One of Clear22’s main efforts is the Support a Military Veteran Artist Grant program. Our mission is to award $250 grants to Clear22 artists in support of their growth artists. This money can be used on art supplies, music studio time, writers’ conferences, photo software, etc. Grants are funded through donations and a small percentage of purchases made in the Clear22 Shop.

Grants are awarded for specific needs as requested by the artist. Once a grant is awarded, the artist must then provide proof of purchase so we can be sure all donations are being spent in support of our mission—to support military veteran artists and military dependent artists. That proof of purchase can be a picture of a Veteran posing at an art supply store with her new paintbrushes, a pic of a Military Dependent signing into his first writers’ conference, or a Veteran tuning his new acoustic guitar.

If you would like to be part of the action to clear obstacles that military veteran artists and military dependent artists face, join us. Please click the donate button to contribute today.