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Media Contact:
John Ellis
VP Communications
The Heinz Endowments

Phone: 412.338.2657
Email: je@heinz.org

Rethink Perception Exhibition Returns for the Gallery Crawl

The Office of Public Art and RethinkVets bring back the veteran inspired exhibition

Pittsburgh, PA...September 13, 2018...The Office of Public Art, in collaboration with RethinkVets and The Heinz Endowments, will bring back the exhibition Rethink Perception for ten days beginning on September 21, and concluding on September 30. The exhibition features the work of six artist-veterans from around the United States. Housed in a repurposed shipping container reminiscent of those often utilized in overseas military deployments, the climate-controlled exhibition space will be located adjacent to 212 10th Street, Pittsburgh, 15222. Rethink Perception is free and open to the public. To see gallery hours, please visit: publicartpittsburgh.org.

RethinkVets is a coalition of organizations working to change the perception of how returning veterans are viewed by the American public. The exhibition features the work of six artist-veterans: Alicia Dietz (Richmond, VA), Jonas Lara (Oxnard, CA), Jamie Peterson (Columbia, SC), Hector René (Brooklyn, NY), Ehren Tool (Berkeley, CA), and Elise Wells (Stahlstown, PA). Each artist is a member of the United States Veterans’ Artists Alliance (USVAA), an award-winning, multidisciplinary nonprofit organization that provides opportunities for veterans working across the humanities. Selected for their unique perspectives and strong artistic abilities, the artists and their works are intended to raise awareness about how veterans work, challenge veteran stereotypes, and celebrate the significant contributions of veterans to both military and civilian life.

Rethink Perception first opened at the 2018 Dollar Bank Three Rivers Arts Festival and engaged over 1,500 visitors. Retired Medical Service Corps Captain Sean Tyler volunteered as a gallery attendant during the festival. "As a veteran, I found the Rethink Perception exhibit at the Three Rivers Arts Festival to be eye-opening and provocative. The exhibition overall challenged the status quo, which usually portrays veterans as being damaged individuals in need of a lot of help. Rethink Perception did exactly as promised; it gave a look into the lives of veterans who have found their way and their purpose after their service ended. Veterans, like all people, are on a spectrum and shouldn’t be pigeonholed into the damaging narrative of being dysfunctional or broken. We are capable of amazing things and this exhibit shows exactly that,” said Tyler.

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About RethinkVets

RethinkVets, an initiative of The Heinz Endowments, is a coalition of nonprofit organizations working to drive better outcomes for service members, veterans and military families, address misconceptions and reshape public opinion about veterans in the Pittsburgh region. Visit rethinkvets.org.

About The Heinz Endowments

The Heinz Endowments is devoted to the mission of helping southwestern Pennsylvania prosper as a vibrant center of creativity, learning, and social, economic and environmental sustainability. Core to our work is the vision of a just community where all are included and where everyone who calls our region home has a real and meaningful opportunity to thrive. Visit heinz.org.

About United States Veterans’ Artists Alliance

The United States Veterans’ Artists Alliance (USVAA) is an award-winning, multi-disciplinary non-profit arts organization, founded in 2004 by military veterans and artists. USVAA provides opportunities for veterans in the arts by highlighting the work of veterans in the arts, humanities and entertainment industry along with the contributions veterans have made historically to the rich cultural history of our nation. Visit usvaa.org.

About the Office of Public Art

The Office of Public Art expands the range of possibilities for artists to engage communities through technical assistance, educational programs, commissions, and residencies in the public realm. Founded in 2005, they work with organizations and individuals, within the thirteen county regions of Southwestern Pennsylvania, in the public and private sector to facilitate the development of and information about public art. For more information, visit: publicartpittsburgh.org.

How The Media's Narrow Portrayal Of Service Members Does The Military A Disservice

By Emma Moore on August 2, 2018

As the American military becomes more isolated from society and society more disconnected from war, public understanding of its military will continue to impact the interest among young people to serve and the burden of war on military members and families. The familiarity gap between the military and society exacerbates contradictory attitudes towards the military community: the military as an institution enjoys incredible public support, but the emergence of 'generations of war' given high service rates among children of service members are met with shrinking familial connections to the military. Similarly, public views label veterans as community assets and leaders, but also assume veterans experience PTSD and homelessness. The military is easy to love from afar, but the disconnect ultimately threatens national security.

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Artist-Veterans' "Rethink Perception" Exhibition Opens at Dollar Bank Three Rivers Arts Festival

The Office of Public Art and RethinkVets collaborate to host "Rethink Perception" exhibition

Pittsburgh, PA June 1, 2018 -- The Office of Public Art, in collaboration with RethinkVets and The Heinz Endowments, announce the exhibition "Rethink Perception," opening June 2, 2018 as part of the Dollar Bank Three Rivers Arts Festival. The exhibition will feature the work of six artist-veterans from around the United States.

"Rethink Perception" will feature the work of six artist-veterans: Alicia Dietz (Richmond, VA), Jonas Lara (Oxnard, CA), Jamie Peterson (Columbia, SC), Hector René (Brooklyn, NY), Ehren Tool (Berkeley, CA), and Elise Wells (Stahlstown, PA). Each artist is a member of the United States Veterans' Artists Alliance (USVAA), an award-winning, multidisciplinary nonprofit organization that provides opportunities for veterans working across the humanities. Selected for their unique perspectives and strong artistic abilities, the artists and their works are intended to raise awareness about how veterans work, challenge veteran stereotypes and celebrate the significant contributions of veterans to both military and civilian life.

Housed in a repurposed shipping container reminiscent of those often utilized in overseas military deployments, the climate-controlled exhibit space is located at the corner of Penn Avenue and Stanwix Street. "Rethink Perception" is free and open to the public June 2, 3, 9 and 10 from noon - 8pm.

"Rethink Perception" is a continuation of the Endowments' RethinkVets campaign, launched in 2017, and is a bridge to the campaign's second phase that will debut in fall 2018. "RethinkVets, and the "Rethink Perceptions" exhibit in particular, aims to illustrate that veterans are much more than the heroes or victims that many perceive them to be," said Megan Andros, senior program officer for the Endowments.

RethinkVets is a coalition of organizations working to change the perception of how returning veterans are viewed by the American public.

For more information, please contact Sallyann Kluz, RA, Director for the Office of Public Art, Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council at skluz@pittsburghartscouncil.org, 412-391-2060, ex 251.

To learn more about RethinkVets please visit: www.rethinkvets.org. To learn more about the Office of Public Art, please visit: www.publicartpittsburgh.org.

Endowments’ new messaging campaign seeks to refocus understanding of veterans’ needs

PITTSBURGH Pa., June 1, 2017 -- A major public campaign was today launched in the Pittsburgh region in efforts to help create a true understanding of the challenges faced by veterans seeking to re-integrate into the community after returning from active military service.

Part of the campaign addresses widely held beliefs that the majority of returning veterans suffer from mental health issues, serious debilitating physical injury, or both – misperceptions that can prejudice efforts of former servicemen and women to kick-start their careers in civilian life.

And the campaign developed by The Heinz Endowments focuses on veterans’ comprehensive range of skills, qualifications and strong leadership qualities in urging local businesses to consider hiring more individuals who have served in the military.

“The idea that most returning veterans are in some way incapacitated or vulnerable is a myth that tends to permeate our communities locally and nationally,” said Grant Oliphant, President of The Heinz Endowments. “Certainly this can influence public charitable giving, but it does not help veterans and their families as they work to reestablish their lives.

“The truth is that veterans have an enormous amount to offer our community. They represent tremendous assets, socially, professionally and economically and we hope that our campaign can help to increase understanding and appreciation of that in refocusing the conversation. We hope it will inspire more action and less lip service in addressing the real needs of veterans.”

A two-part creative messaging campaign begins today (June 1) with varied ‘teaser’ versions of display signage and digital banners in Downtown Pittsburgh and on-line depicting an ex-serviceman or woman with a statement designed to inspire public curiosity, such as “Don’t just thank a veteran,” or “Veterans don’t just deserve respect,” or “Don’t just call veterans heroes,” or “Don’t just honor a veteran’s past.”

One week later, on June 8, the second part of the messaging will be added to the signage and digital banners to complete the statements: “Don’t just thank a veteran. Hire one.” “Veterans don’t just deserve respect. They deserve opportunities.” “Don’t just call veterans heroes. Call them for an interview.” And “Don’t just honor a veteran’s past. Help them build a future.”

The messaging refers individuals to a special website created to provide further information at RethinkVets.org which offers resources for veterans, their families, potential employers and the public. The site introduces users with the message: “Veterans don’t come back the same. They’re stronger, smarter and better leaders,” and features profiles of veterans and local organizations providing support services together with information addressing veterans’ needs and how these can be misunderstood.

The campaign messaging, developed by the Endowments with local advertising agency, Garrison Hughes, will use interior and exterior signage on buses, transit shelters and the North Side T Station together with digital banners on media websites. Before launching the initiative, the campaign was reviewed and endorsed by separate focus groups comprising veterans and members of the public.

More than four years ago, the Endowments began significant funding to programs that support veterans, under the leadership of Program Officer Megan Andros, a veteran of the United States Army who served in the Iraq War. Since then the foundation has awarded total grants of over $4 million, including funding for detailed research and surveys investigating the needs of returning veterans and the creation in 2015 of PAServes, a coalition of 46 nonprofit organizations in the Pittsburgh region providing support services for former servicemen and women.

PAServes, the first program of its kind in the Pittsburgh region, is designed as a single-point service to connect returning veterans and their families in Allegheny, Butler and Westmoreland counties with employment contacts and social, health and wellness services. Currently the local region is home to more than 235,000 veterans, and southwestern Pennsylvania is a major destination for the ex-military with 5,000-plus arriving annually.

“Misperceptions around returning veterans is a significant issue which in turn creates a big problem of under-employment, represented by large numbers of veterans failing to secure work in civilian life that is commensurate with their skills and qualifications,” said Megan Andros. “The fact is that less than one percent of veterans return with debilitating injury, physical or mental, and our messaging campaign is designed to help change the narrative, which we believe is key.”

"The Veterans Breakfast Club is excited to support The Heinz Endowments' new campaign to recast our conversation about veterans’ re-integration,” said Nick Grimes, Post-9/11 Program Director of the Pittsburgh nonprofit. “With the percentage of men and women serving in our armed forces at an historic low, most people are only dimly aware of the veterans’ experience and harbor many misconceptions about it.

“We hope that through this campaign, people will gain a better understanding of veterans' unique qualifications and skills and will see our veterans for what they are: invaluable assets to local businesses and the community at large.”


Media Coverage

Campaign urging Pittsburgh employers to hire vets

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

As a maintenance officer in Iraq during the Second Gulf War, Megan Andros commanded more than 100 troops in a heavy brigade combat team, and oversaw millions of dollars...

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Heinz Endowments launches campaign for vets

Pittsburgh Business Times

The Heinz Endowments has unveiled a national campaign to help veterans re-enter the civilian workforce. The campaign was created by the Heinz Endowments and Pittsburgh-based ad agency Garrison Hughes. The first part launched on digital banners and signage in Pittsburgh on Thursday.

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The Campaign