Helping Veterans Heal Through Guitar Lessons

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Acoustic guitar fretboard strings melody music song
Acoustic guitar fretboard strings melody music song

Have you always wanted to play the guitar?  There is a free program that may be available to teach you how and give you a free guitar as well.

The Guitars for Vets program is run by a nonprofit organization that provides free guitar lessons to veterans suffering from PTSD or other mental health issues. The program provides free individual and group guitar lessons and all graduates receive a free guitar.

In 2007, Patrick Nettesheim, a Milwaukee guitar instructor was introduced to Vietnam-era Marine, Dan Van Buskirk. For years Dan wanted to learn to play guitar but felt the lasting effects of combat, in the form of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), would make it difficult for him to succeed. After only a few months of working with Patrick, Dan discovered that the strong spirit that helped him throughout his time in Vietnam was all he needed to play music. Together, the men realized that guitar lessons were both opportunities for self-expression and positive human interaction. Dan and Patrick shared what they learned with Veterans at The Clement J. Zablocki VA Medical Center and Guitars for Vets was born.

Now, with more than 40,000 lessons given and over 4,000 free guitars given out by the organization since their inception, Guitars for Vets has grown to more than 110 chapters in 40 states nationwide. The organization has had a tremendous effect on its students. A research study of Guitars for Vets students showed a 21% improvement in PTSD symptoms and a 27% decrease in related depression symptoms. The study attributed learning and playing guitar as the primary catalysts for these improvements

To gain admission to the program you must be referred by your local VA medical staff, counselor or vet center. 

For more information, including how to enroll in classes, start a local chapter, or how to offer support, please visit the GuitarsforVets website.

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