Guitars for Vets, a Milwaukee based non-profit corporation, which supplies guitars and instruction to Veterans at VA Hospitals, is putting the healing power of music in the hands of heroes.
In May of 2007 Patrick Nettesheim was teaching Dan Van Buskirk his guitar lesson when they started chatting about how much playing the guitar has helped Dan manage his Vietnam related PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). Dan felt that it gave him focus and a great sense of happiness. They speculated that other Vets with PTSD might benefit from this meditation in motion.
Guitars for Vets was born of this conversation and originally started playing every Friday in the Spinal Chord Injury Unit at the Milwaukee, WI VA Hospital. It has since matured to include giving guitars, which were donated by warpdrivemusic.com, and music instruction to the Veterans. Recently they have grown to include the Tomah, WI VA.
“We have done some wonderful work at the Milwaukee VA so far. As a Vietnam Veteran suffering from PTSD I have found picking up my guitar on the difficult days that I have been able to reduce my medications.” Said Dan Van Buskirk, President of Guitars for Vets. He added, “It is so rewarding to see fellow Veterans just light up at the new found ability to make music.”
Patrick Nettesheim, Program Director for the organization said, “After teaching guitar for many years this has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my career. We hope to develop our non-profit to a nationwide program. As word has spread, we have seen requests come in from all over the Country.”
According to Steve Benford of Benford Guitars, a custom guitar maker in Milwaukee, “We were recently able to pick up a large quantity of guitars from Westheimer Corporation (makers of Cort Guitars). The challenge is to raise the funds to keep up with the large volume of applications we are receiving.”
Guitars for Vets are currently seeking funds to expand the program. They are taking donations through their web site at Guitars for Vets and through the mail to Guitars for Vets, PO Box 617, Milwaukee, WI 53201.