ROCKFORD -- The Rockford Chapter of Guitars for Vets hosted "Heroes Unplugged," its third annual benefit event at the Nordlof Center Saturday.
The program featured emcee Aaron Wilson, Paul Bronson, Post Facto, the Rockford Dance Company Cardio Tap Dancers, Malandrino and the Rockford G4V Jam Band.
There was a silent auction fundraiser and music from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Guitars for Vets currently operates more than 80 chapters nationwide and is dedicated to sharing the healing power of music with veterans suffering from combat-related distress, according to the organization's website. The program provides guitar instruction in a structured program run by volunteers.
Trish Rooney, coordinator of the Rockford chapter of Guitars for Vets, said the program provides a "positive outlet for dealing with whatever stresses (veterans) are going through."
"The Nordlof Center is a wonderful, gracious host," Rooney said. "It's very easy to get volunteer performers because they want to support the cause, and they enjoy performing at the Nordlof."
Participant R. Glenn Wolf of Belvidere, an Air Force fire and rescue specialist from 1974 to 1980, manned the greeting table at the venue Saturday afternoon.
Wolf said he suffers from insomnia, lack of focus and other health issues stemming from his military service.
Wolf has been playing guitar in the Guitars for Vets program for the last three months. He said his wife and medical care providers have seen an improvement in his behavior over that time period.
"It calms you down and makes you relaxed," he said.
Wolf said the need for the program exceeds its current capacity. He said the high suicide rate among veterans is the most important reason the program is needed.
A 2017 Veterans Affairs report said the risk for suicide among veteran adults is 22 percent higher than for nonveteran adults. In the report, VA Secretary David J. Shulkin said the VA reported 20 suicides by veterans per day in 2016.
"We only have 80 chapters in the nation," Wolf said. "That's not enough. We have three (chapters) in Illinois -- two in Chicago and one here. That's ridiculous. You're telling me that's the only areas of veterans?"
The Rockford chapter serves veterans who receive their health care through the Rockford VA community-based outpatient clinic. Monthly jam sessions are held the second Monday of each month.
For more information go to www.guitars4vets.org.
--Scott P. Yates; 815-987-1348; firstname.lastname@example.org; @scottpyates ___
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