Our Founders

Seema Reza


Seema Reza is a poet and essayist and the author of two books. She holds undergraduate and graduate degrees in writing and community building from Goddard College. In 2010 Seema began working with service members, veterans, and their families at Walter Reed Army Medical Center and has since developed a unique multi-hospital and community arts program that encourages the use of the arts as a tool for narration, self-care and socialization. In 2015, the USO of Metropolitan Washington-Baltimore awarded Seema the Col John Gioia Patriot Award for her work with service members. In 2019, Reza was selected as a George W. Bush Stand-To Veteran Leadership Program Scholar. Reza’s writing has been published in McSweeney’s, The Washington Post, The LA Review, The Feminist Wire, The Offing, and Entropy among others. Case studies from her work with military populations have appeared in Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Related Diseases in Combat Veterans.

Joe Merritt

Vice Chair

Joe Merritt, Vice Chair was medically retired from the United States Marine Corps in 2016 after 10 years of honorable service. Joe rediscovered art during his medical treatment and has a successful career as a professional artist, exhibiting his work and presenting gallery talks across the country. He is a steward of the veteran art community, leading art programming with active duty and veteran populations in DC, MD and VA. He is currently serving as a trustee of VFW post 5246 in Federalsburg, Maryland.