RICHARD CASPER | Co-Founder & Executive Director
Richard co-founded CreatiVets and currently serves as the CreatiVets organization’s executive director. Richard served four years as an infantryman in the United States Marine Corps, with a combat deployment in Fallujah, Iraq. During his deployment, he was hit by four IEDs in just four short months, causing him to suffer from a traumatic brain injury. Upon returning home, Richard found it hard to adjust and suffered from PTS until he discovered the healing power of music and art. After experiencing firsthand the impact music and art had on his own recovery, Richard co-founded CreatiVets to help other veterans who are suffering.
BRETT GILLAN | Program Director
Brett Gillan attended Illinois State University (ISU) where he was a member of the men’s basketball team. He had been developing web applications at State Farm Insurance as an intern from highschool through college and was set up for a career at State Farm’s corporate headquarters in Bloomington, Illinois. But, after graduating ISU with a degree in Applied Computer Science (ACS) and a Masters in Business Administration (MBA), Brett decided to pursue an entirely different career path. He became a founding member and the front-man for Midwest country band, Brushville. Brushville’s debut album, released in 2014, went to #1 on the Billboard Heatseekers chart. Brushville shared the stage with nearly 100 major label acts as a touring band and also won multiple regional and national awards including the Battle for the Saddle, a battle of the bands style competition, at the Wildhorse Saloon in Nashville, Tennessee. In 2017, Brett made the decision to part ways with the band and move to Nashville, Tennesse to help with the mission of CreatiVets. His current role involves all of his life experience from IT work to business management to music…and, he can still shoot the lights out playing basketball.
KYLE YEPSEN | Financial Director
Kyle is the brother of LCPL Luke Yepsen and has founded many businesses over the last 15 years. His most recent company, Texas Track Works, is based in Fort Worth and specializes in building custom BMW and Porsche race cars. After building that organization and winning numerous club racing titles over the last 11 years, he decided to step away in order to take time to make a difference in the lives of veterans. Kyle is a recent participant of the CreatiVets songwriting program and seeks to bring the same appreciation and creativity to veterans across the country.
DAN PFLIEGER | Deputy Director
Dan joined CreatiVets in 2019 and serves as the organization’s Deputy Director. Dan brings with him over a decade of serving in various roles with veteran service organizations. Before joining CreatiVets, Dan was the Executive Director of the Salute Military Golf Association (SMGA). The SMGA’s mission was to improve health and wellness outcomes of our veterans through adaptive golf. Dan is a George W. Bush Institute Stand-To Veteran Leadership Program Scholar and graduated as part of the inaugural class of 2018. Dan and his wife live in Charleston, South Carolina. Dan is an avid outdoorsman, and when he’s not working, you can find him fishing the Lowcountry flats in search of bull redfish.
GARRETT LEO AUGUSTYN | Art Director
Garrett Leo Augustyn is a Chicago based artist who graduated from the School of the Art Institute (SAIC) with a Bachelors of Fine Arts with Emphasis in Art Education (BFAAE) in 2017. Garrett Leo’s interdisciplinary work explores what it means to be an American by looking at the history of the United States and its juxtaposition of our society today. His interests in American traditions and aesthetic representations has continued in his ongoing series of work; Grit Culture – the romanticization of an aesthetically pleasing culture with the intent to distort the historical reality. Through artistic expression, Garrett Leo manipulates themes of exploitation, glorification, and glamorization found within American aesthetics with what he refers to as grit. His passion for necessary dialogue in a fractured society is exemplified in this work with veterans. As a citizen, artist, and educator Garrett Leo uses his skill set and experiences, to help support the men and women who have served their country through healing by creative expression. Garrett Leo currently works as a Visual Arts Educator for Chicago Public Schools and as the Art Director for CreatiVets.
Staff & Volunteers
ZACHARY BURGART | Chicago Team Leader
Zachary served in the Marine Corps in the Force Reconnaissance Community for nearly 15 years before being medically retired in 2018 from multiple traumatic brain injuries. Zachary discovered art through Art Therapy which is what lead him to CreatiVets. Zachary is a graduate of the CreatiVets art (2017) and music program (2018) and is currently attending the School of the Art Institute of Chicago studying art full time pursuing a Bachelors of Fine Art Degree. His art practice currently focuses on looking into loss and love of community, family, and country. Zachary utilizes ceramics, ink, and American Military uniforms worn in combat in his practice.
BELLA HUDSON | Community Outreach Coordinator
Bella Hudson graduated with a BBA from Belmont University in April of 2021. She grew up in Colorado and has been writing and performing since the age of 11, opening for a wide range of artists including Trace Adkins, Midland, and Chris Janson. She competed in both finals of the Belmont Battle of the Bands and the Country Showcase, and now works for CreatiVets as a community outreach coordinator.
JENNA COSTANZO | Program Associate
Jenna served as a public relations intern before joining staff as our Program Associate. She graduated from Belmont University in 3 years with a B.A. in Psychology and a minor in Public Relations. She will start pursuing her Master’s from Butler University in August 2021 with hopes of writing for a boutique PR agency. She is originally from Knoxville, TN.
MICHAEL PEACOCK | Volunteer Writer
Currently residing in Nashville, Michael has more than 20 years of experience as a writing professional working with well-known brands such as The Coca-Cola Company, The Weather Channel, IBM, and CNN, as well as smaller companies and locally-based firms including Lovell Communications, VF Imagewear, and Bulwark. With a passion for serving those who have served our country, he is using his editorial, content development, and content strategy skills and experience to support veterans who seek healing through the programs offered by CreatiVets.
SETH COLE | Veteran Outreach
Seth is an Army veteran who served from 2005-2009 as a radar operator for field artillery. Before the military, he worked many exciting jobs from construction of sewage treatment plants to painting huge grain silos all over the Midwest. Seth joined the ARMY in 2005 and was deployed in 2007 to Iraq to FOB Mamadiyah where they were rocketed and shot at on occasion the 6 months he was there. After surviving a lot of close calls, one day in September, 8 days after he did a re-enlistment his luck ran out in a sense, when he was injured badly by a misfired Mark 19 round. What wasn’t realized was that what looked like bad luck was a blessing in disguise. “Any holiday can be a day when packages come to the door and you don’t remember ordering them.” Many years went by with a lot of therapy and different things for the PTS nights. Seth was about to give up. A friend called one day and said that he found a group called Creativets and that he signed Seth up. Seth took that a leap of faith and it took him on a soul searching journey of art, songwriting, and learning to compose music. In 2018 he attended the Visual Arts Program and was completely captivated by how much healing came out of it and the sense of self-worth that ensued through creating something that made ripples with others in and out of the veteran community. Amazed by what he learned over the last few years, Seth said, “art saved my life and music has shaped it.”
MICHAEL BENNETT | Veteran Outreach
Michael joined the Marines in 1995 as an 0331 and served 4 years active duty and 2 WESTPACs. He then served another 5 years USMC reserve and after working various civilian jobs he decided to go active duty Army. From 2004 to 2012 he served with The Rakkasans and deployed twice to Iraq and once to Afghanistan. In 2012, he was diagnosed with CIDP and lost the feeling in his lower legs. He retired in 2015 after 20 years of service. Michael was a participant of the CreatiVets art program in 2018. He was such an asset during the program that he now serves as CreatiVets Veteran Outreach to accept veterans into the CreatiVets programs.
BART CROWE | Veteran Resident Assistant
Bart Crowe grew up in Daytona Beach, FL and served active duty Army from 1988-1991 and then National Guard from 1991-1995. He deployed for Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm 1990-1991. He now resides in North Carolina with his wife Melinda and three boys. Bart attended the CreatiVets art program in the summer of 2017 and has become an official part of the CreatiVets team to “pay it forward” since the program had such a positive impact on his life.