For years, Anthony LoBue has been a leading force in San Diego’s veterans community, founding the Support our Veterans Association and becoming involved with several similar organizations.
But while the Army veteran is proud of his military service, he’s also passionate about the arts, including writing, poetry and theater.
“I like to promote the fact that veterans can be artists and artists can be veterans,” said LoBue, 79.
Those two worlds met at Comic-Con Thursday as Lobue and fellow veterans talked about how the arts can help active duty military members and veterans cope with their experiences and be an outlet for their creativity.
San Diego is well known as a military town and there are organizations that support veteran interest in the arts.
Lobue is founder and president of Arts for Veterans and served as the arts director at the Veterans Museum in Balboa Park. Steve Dilley, who helped moderate Thursday’s discussion, is the executive director of The Veterans Arts Project, a group that offers free arts classes and arts therapy to vets and active duty military.
For many, the arts are a way to deal with trauma or stress they acquired during their military service.
“Art is very therapeutic for the mind,” said Tonya Savice, an artist and founder of Spread Love Thru Arts, which works to empower women veterans. “Art relaxes and eases the mind.”
Maximilian Uriarte, a Marine who served two tours in Iraq, created a comic strip series, “Terminal Lance,” that has been published in The Marine Corps Times newspaper and has been featured at the Marine Corps library in Miramar.
“Lance is about my experience in the Marine Corps,” said Uriarte. “Art is about telling stories. Making impactful work.”
The arts can even be helpful in military careers. Amit Khosla found that his writing and critical thinking skills led to better assignments.
“I was an officer and there’s a saying that every officer is a PowerPoint Ranger,” he joked.
It works the other way too.
Lobue said when he has an arts project, he uses his military training to look at it as a mission and focus on critical steps along the project’s path.
“Everything that I am is because of everything I’ve experienced and it will show up in my art, subconsciously or consciously,” he said.
LoBue and the others said they continue to advocate for arts in the veterans community. In October, Dilley’s organization will be organizing a state project later this year to advocate for arts and mental.
Luis Monteagudo Jr. is a freelance writer and pop culture enthusiast. He has written for The San Diego Union-Tribune, USA Today and numerous other publications.