Over 50 veterans gathered to perform on the first day of the 2016 Local Veterans Creative Arts Festival in Reno, Nevada, reported the Reno-Gazette Journal. The Department of Veterans Affairs sponsored the event, which started March 2 and continues through March 11. The festival is in its third year.

Last week's opening performance, which took place at the Reno Elks Club, featured comedy, poetry and short-story readings, and musical performances. A ventriloquist even performed.

"It's so that people see that veterans are talented, that we don't just serve the government and serve where we were put but we all have special little gifts that we like to share," Linda Esterling, a 65-year-old former U.S. Marine Corps candidate administrator and the aforementioned puppeteer, told the newspaper.

Eric Hobson, a veteran of the Vietnam War and writer, also performed. The ex-servicemember recited his poem "The Hills Art Alive," a piece about enemy gunfire that plays off the popular film "The Sound of Music." Hobson attended three separate screenings of the movie during his time in Vietnam with the U.S. Army. All three showings were interrupted by advancing North Vietnamese soldiers.

"I hate the movie," he said in an interview with the Reno-Gazette Journal.

Veterans who create visual art will have the opportunity to display their work during a showcase at the VA Sierra Nevada Health Care System in Reno. It starts Wed. March 9 and wraps up March 11 with an awards ceremony.

The VA funds this and other local veterans arts competitions across the country. Winners from local festivals are invited to perform at the National Veterans Creative Arts Festival, which takes place Oct. 10 through 17 in Jackson, Mississippi. 

Art therapy is a key treatment for veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, reported NBC News. It allows participants to confront their problems and work through them in a constructive and often powerful way. In recent years, art therapy has gained a national foothold among veterans. The National Intrepid Center of Excellence, a division of the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, made waves in 2013 when it commissioned its art therapy participants to create a series of painted masks, reported National Geographic.