Spotlight on the Good Works of the RCM Community Trust: Guitars for Vets

By George Solveson, Military Service Support Committee Chair


The Military Service Support Committee (MSSC) is excited to contribute $1,000 from the RCM Community Trust to Guitars For Vets, Inc. 


Guitars For Vets is a highly beneficial and successful program of therapy treatment to veterans who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and similar mental health issues.


Volunteers assemble guitars to be given to vets at a 2010 Build a Guitar a Vet event.

In 2007, a Milwaukee guitar instructor was introduced to a Vietnam-era Marine. The Marine wanted to learn to play guitar but felt the lasting effects of combat, in the form of PTSD, had left him unable to coordinate the hands with the mind. After only a few months of working with the guitar instructor, the Marine discovered that the same 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. The men shared what they learned with veterans at the Clement J. Zablocki VA Medical Center Spinal Rehabilitation Unit.  Guitars for Vets was born.


Today, there may be as many as 400,000 service members living with "invisible wounds of war," particularly PTSD.  There has never been a better time than now to support Veterans mental health wellness programs that are cost effective, safe, do not require specialized equipment or supplies and can be rapidly expanded to meet the very large need.


Guitars For Vets 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 Veterans Administration (VA) facilities and community-based medical centers.


The weekly private guitar lessons provided by volunteers are individualized and designed to help students learn at their own pace while accommodating any physical and/or emotional challenges including, but not limited to, PTSD, Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), cognitive difficulties, amputations, partial paralysis and visual impairment. Guitars For Vets has completed over 12,000 guitar lessons and distributed over 2,000 guitars to veterans.