Improvisational storytelling for caregivers at You Are a Work of Art retreat. Photo by Mike Rollins.

Military Hospital Programs

Patients, their families, and caregivers at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center (WRNMMC) connect and heal through participating in bedside and group arts sessions. Through “Allies in the Arts” (designed for patients and families) and “You Are a Work of Art” (designed for nurses, medics, and technicians), ArtStream teaching artists provide sessions focused on music, creative writing, visual arts, and improvisational expression. Sessions are designed to give participants a feeling of creativity, resilience, and community in the hospital setting.

“You made our evening perfect. You really gave us a big lift when we needed it. Thank you so much.” — Spouse of a patient at WRNMMC after a music session

Military Hospital programs are closed to the public and do not accept volunteers.

About Allies in the Arts

ArtStream brings creative arts opportunities to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. Sessions focus on music, visual arts, creative writing, and storytelling in multimedia. Service members, their families (including children), and military hospital staff alike benefit from active engagement in the arts.

Allies in the Arts enriches the lives of participants through development of new creative skills, while helping them process their experiences and cope more effectively with stress. 

After a successful pilot in 2009, Allies began regular programming in June 2010 with two arts sessions per week at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. In Fall 2011, the program transitioned to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, MD, as part of the merging of Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, DC, and National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, MD.

In conjunction with Judy Rollins, PhD, RN, ArtStream leads a team of specially trained and experienced arts practitioners in this innovative work. Integral to the artists’ approach is the use of adaptive arts materials and processes ensuring equal access to Allies in the Arts activities for individuals with diverse disabilities.

Allies in the Arts has been featured in the 2013 white paper Arts, Health and Well-Being across the Military Continuum and the July 2015 issue of Arts & Health.

“Children create some art – a simple drawing, a poem or story, a song, a dance – to present to their injured parent upon entering the hospital room. Having something concrete to do when approaching the parent can ‘bridge the gap’ between entering the room and arriving at bedside.”
– “Promoting coping for children of hospitalized service members with combat injuries through creative arts engagement”, Judy Rollins and Ermyn King
Arts & Health: An International Journal for Research, Policy and Practice

About You Are a Work of Art

Relaxation techniques for caregivers at You Are a Work of Art retreat. Photo by Mike Rollins.

Photo by Mike Rollins

Every day the staff at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center (WRNMMC) struggle to find hope and balance in a demanding position.

In support of those who serve wounded veterans, ArtStream is proud to offer “You Are a Work of Art” (YAWA). This project, sponsored by Prince Charitable Trusts, is designed for nurses, medics and technicians at WRNMMC to practice stress-management and self-care while building friendships through the arts.

Pop-up art sessions are offered on-site and creative projects are often collected displayed for all to share. This helps to create a sense of community and history, even as the hospital cycles through new staff members each year.

You Are a Work of Art was featured in the 2017 white paper Arts, Health and Well-Being in America.



ArtStream’s Military Hospital programs are led by professionals inthe field of Arts in Healthcare.