Guitars for Vets Offers Veteran Music Therapy for PTSD and Other Injuries
In 2007, Marine Corps Veteran Dan VanBuskirk began taking guitar lessons. He became friends with his instructor, Patrick Nettesheim, and they both realized that learning to play the guitar created a much-needed outlet for VanBuskirk. Furthermore, the lessons themselves provided opportunities for the positive interaction both men needed. Together they established Guitars 4 Vets (G4V) which operates in over 110 VA chapters across 40 states, today.
How Does Music Therapy Help PTSD?
Music – both playing it and listening to it – has been proven to decrease anxiety, increase self-esteem, and reduce PTSD symptoms. A recent study of Guitars 4 Vets students showed a 21% improvement in PTSD symptoms and a 27% decrease in related depression symptoms after participants completed the 10-week program.
G4V utilizes music as a means of improving communication, coordination, and interpersonal skills. The G4V four-way path provides the foundation for the 10-week instruction period. This path uses four guiding principles to help Veterans heal: patience, acceptance, gratitude, and empathy.
Weekly one-on-one lessons are led by volunteer instructors and allow students to learn at their own pace. Monthly group sessions provide social interaction and facilitate camaraderie. Upon graduation, Veterans receive a free acoustic guitar and accessory kit. Every month thereafter brings additional groups sessions for graduates to continue practicing and provide a community to which Vets can connect.
How Can I Enroll in G4V?
Enrollment in Guitars for Veterans requires a referral from a case worker or social worker to a VA chapter that offers the program. Luckily, a cyber chapter is now available, making G4V accessible to all Veterans, regardless of their location. All cyber participants must have access to a guitar for lessons as well as a tablet or computer with camera and microphone.
To learn more, visit www.guitars4vets.org.