BR McDonald (Veteran Artist Program)
Veteran Artist Program
BR is an Army veteran who served 7 years as an Arabic linguist and Special Operator in the Joint Special Operations Command. BR deployed 3 times to Southeast Asia during his Army career and 4 times as an Operations and Intelligence Consultant for the Department of Defense. After getting out of the Army in 2008, BR decided to get back to his roots as an actor/singer and founded the Veteran Artist Program (VAP), which takes artists, who are also veterans, and propels their works and careers into the mainstream creative arts community through networking, mentorships, collaborations with professional artists and original productions.
BR grew up singing and performing in Taiwan where he lived for 8 years as a missionary kid speaking Mandarin Chinese. Music was always a part of this life and it was expected that he would continue to pursue music in some capacity as a career. BR capped a lifetime of music and performing by getting a vocal performance degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2001. After graduating, and during the crucial time where BR would make the biggest career decision of his life, the events of 9-11 occurred and BR knew it was his time to be part of something larger than himself. BR enlisted in the Army, despite having a college degree, and spent 2 years learning Arabic preparing for some of the toughest assignments and most elite units the military has to offer.
During his time in the service, BR put his love of the arts on hold and focused on being the best soldier he could be. Ironically, he found his background of living overseas and his experience as a performer was what made him successful in the Army. He met many creative individuals who had put their careers and passion for the arts on hold but hoped to get back into it one day. While most people put the two experiences of military and arts at odds, BR recognized that he had the ability and expertise to connect these seemingly disparate worlds. He saw that other military men and women could benefit from an organization that created exposure, opportunity, and awareness for veterans hoping to return to a career in the arts.
BR is the Founder/Director of VAP, which started in Baltimore, MD in 2009 and has since conducted projects in New York City, Washington, DC and Orlando, FL, with projects planned in Chicago and San Diego in the next year. BR is a current advocate and leader in the national veteran community and also co-founded The 6th Branch, a veteran-led community service organization tackling aggressive projects in underserved neighborhoods. BR currently lives in Alexandria, VA and works in Intelligence Futures for the Army at the Pentagon. BR will complete his Executive MBA at Loyola University of Maryland in May 2013 and hopes to put VAP on a national stage where veterans can believe that art is an option and know they have the support they need to achieve greatness.