About Veteran Art Institute

    Dear Veterans and Patrons,

    Welcome to the Veteran Art Institute! This is the story of how this service came into being.

    I am the daughter of an Army Air Forces Veteran, WWII Bronze Star Medal recipient, who was also an artist.  My father suffered from unspoken PTSD resulting in alcoholism which had lifelong effects on our entire family.

    Growing up, I faced both mental and emotional challenges; always seeking for where I fit in. I had always loved the arts and got my BFA in Art History. In the succeeding years, I worked in IT companies while I raised my two children.

    When my dad died in 2009 the old battles resurged but this time, I faced them head on.  I knew I wanted to do something to honor my dad’s service but also help Veterans. Recognizing the healing properties of art, I researched “veterans and art”, found the Veteran Artist Program and became their Visual Arts Coordinator from 2012 through 2018. I helped curate many exhibits of veteran art work, starting with a year-long, 50-veteran, show at the Pentagon. Many other exhibitions followed giving voice to the veterans’ experience and stories through their art.

    In 2019 I was inspired to create my own non-profit where Veterans could collaborate and show their work in galleries (online and locally).  With my fine arts knowledge, and with the help of veterans and friends thereof, we launched the Veteran Art Institute (VAI) a nonprofit. VAI launched its 1st nationwide “in-person” event, the 2019 Women’s Veteran Art Exhibit with the VA and has hosted several online exhibits since.

    Giving back to the Veteran community has proven to be more fulfilling than I ever hoped!  Now it’s my life work and I have found a home.  It is equally gratifying knowing that veterans can support each other as well as educating the public about the veteran experience through their art.


    Kathleen Ellertson
    Founder and President
    Veteran Art Institute



    The purpose of the Veteran Art Institute is to provide encouragement, inspiration, and support to all Veteran Artists seeking to promote their art while calling public attention to their stories. Their powerful stories demonstrate the transformative and healing power of art. Their art connects them with us, the public who have not served, as well as the entire veteran community. Veteran Artists can exhibit their art online, in local community buildings, or in partnership with local businesses, enabling them with the means to promote their art publicly.