ST. CLOUD -- Through her extensive work to better the lives of veterans, St. Cloud resident Liz Mackey has been honored by the American Legion Auxiliary as the organization's Woman of the Year.

The national award is given to a woman who has made a difference in the lives of veterans and contributed to improving their lives.

Mackey was connected to the American Legion Auxiliary through working at the St. Cloud VA as their national director for the Veterans Creative Arts Program. Mackey has been in the position since 1995, although she first started at the St. Cloud VA in 1986.

The award was presented to her a luncheon put on by the American Legion Auxiliary last week. Mackey says she's very humbled to have received the award and her acceptance speech was another way shine a light on veterans involved in the arts.

"The purpose behind it (winning the award) is I was able to get the message of how the creative arts therapy affects veterans in a positive way with their treatment and their rehabilitation."

After nearly 33 years at the St. Cloud VA, Mackey retired in June. However, she says once you start this type of work, you never want to fully step away from it.

"I also want to continue to be an advocate for the therapeutic arts and veterans. You just can't put that down because it's such a positive way of influencing the lives of veterans and there's such need as well."

In the meantime, Mackey still plans to continue to volunteer at the VA by archiving video, audio and print files from the creative arts program.

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