Guitars for Vets helps Veterans find hope in an unlikely place, behind the wood and strings of an acoustic guitar

Helping those who served through the power of music



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, or better know today as G4V, was born.

Over the past years, G4V has refined a guitar instruction program aimed at providing Veterans struggling with physical injuries, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and other emotional distress, a unique supportive program.

G4V pursues its mission to share the healing power of music by providing free guitar instruction, a new acoustic guitar and a guitar accessory kit in a structured program run by volunteers, primarily through the Department of Veterans Affairs health care systems and community-based outpatient clinics, like the one at Salem VA Medical Center in Virginia, where one Veteran was invited to share his experience on WFXR News’ morning show, Living Local in Virginia.

“Co-founding Guitars for Vets was truly a transformative period in my life as it opened for me and the Vets that I worked with a window of serenity where creativity and healing coexist,” said Patrick Nettesheim, Co-founded of Guitar for Vets.

Weekly guitar lessons are individualized and designed to help Veterans learn at their own pace. Monthly group sessions are organized at each chapter to provide Veterans a communal atmosphere to talk and continue to play music with peers who have shared similar experiences.

In G4V group sessions, the connection created between individuals who are both warriors and guitar players serves as a catalyst for positive human interaction. Veterans who regularly attend group sessions build confidence to further pursue creative self-expression and engagement within their communities.

G4V is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization founded in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 2007 now operating more than 80 chapters in 40 states with the assistance of over 200 volunteers nationwide. To learn more about G4V and how you can get involved with a local chapter, visit https://www.guitars4vets.org/. 

If you are interested in learning more about Creative Arts Therapy programs at your local VA health care system, click here.

Author

Brett Robbins

Brett Robbins is an Army Veteran serving as a communications specialist detailed to Department of Veterans Affairs’ Veterans Experience Office.

Comments

  1. Chad Childers    

    This is awesome! I suffer from PTSD and TBI. I would love to learn to play the guitar! I live in Jacksonville, Florida and the closest chapter is about an hour and a half away….bummer. Do they offer any remote training? I am super interested.

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