In honor of PTSD Awareness Month, Kyser Musical Products Inc. was able to sit down and interview with Patrick Nettesheim, co-founder of Guitars For Vets. We were able to ask some questions and discuss some key PTSD topics amongst veterans and other individuals.
How has Guitar for Veterans helped people with PTSD? In What specific ways?
What Guitars For Veterans does for people with PTSD, is it gives them an opportunity to engage in teamwork, commonality, and a common mission with brothers and sisters. Something that many vets miss after their tours and deployment. This allows them to learn a new skill where they can express themselves with instruments or guitars without words and can do it with sounds because when we speak about trauma, we often relive it. And that is part of the healing process however our program is not filled with music therapists, professionals and things of that nature, so we are helping folks that live with PTSD challenges re-establish a sense of Joy in life.
Do you believe the power of music has healing capabilities? If so, can you explain that a little more?
There’s definitely healing power in music. That's been known since humanity became into existence. I don't know if there are any cultures that don't have music or at least some sort of drumming, or some sort of expression beyond words that is sound oriented. What music is and its power lies in the fact that you can share your emotions with others and others can feel those emotions and can relate to something that they might have gone through personally. Music evokes a similar response from the listener regardless of background. It's a unique way to communicate with others.
Why is guitar an optimal instrument for PTSD? What Specific therapies do you think might have the best coping effects for someone with PTSD?
Guitars have such a profound effect on people. It looks cool, It feels cool. It's a sexy looking instrument in the sense that it appeals to many. Even just openly strumming or people listening think it's fun. We want that thing that draws people like that to this program. Again, Guitars for Vets is really about positive human interaction, giving people tools to emote building community through teamwork and commodity. The guitar brings us all together. The guitar pays itself in many ways. For example, when you're in public or just out playing guitar, you can refine your sense of focus and get rid of some of that stress or trauma off the mind. Some people do other activities and are touched by that, others are more so touched by music and its powers. Music brings folks together, it's a catalyst for that positive human interaction.
Are there any events or anything to where GFV is able to have a jam session or small concert events with other similar people/ players/?
We have 110 chapters throughout the US. Now that Covid-19 is becoming better managed, we can return to what was one of the focal points of our program, getting brothers and sisters out and in the public eye performing as a team. Many students become instructors or chapter coordinators. It’s highly encouraged at the ongoing group lessons. Once you get into the program, you can do 10 free one hour private lessons and graduate, then you can get a new guitar and all the accessories you need and can go into group lessons which last indefinitely.
What should people know about the impact of PTSD that they don’t know already?
PTSD or Post Trauma Stress for that matter, isn't just folks that were under fire in the military. It's just when someone’s in combat they don't have time to recover from the grief cause they have to go back to work immediately, and after all that crazy stuff happens, stuff compiles inside, and comes back later. Unfortunately, It's just one of the worst common cases amongst vets. PTS - can affect anybody when they're in a situation that they themselves or someone they love is about to be harmed or killed and there's nothing they can do about it. The word I want to get out is a human issue, where do we start as an organization? Let's start with vets because it seems that they have it the worst amongst anybody. Vets or people with PTS, when managed, can be just as fine workers or contributors to society as anybody else. Nobody should be afraid of them. They are not more prone to more violence if it's better managed.