Nettesheim (left) and Dan Van Buskirk and their Guitars for
Vets organization were featured recently on "NBC Nightly
As a co-founder
of Guitars for Vets Inc., vice president and executive director
Patrick Nettesheim sees something amazing happen when a veteran picks
up a guitar.
to remember that these are people who carried rifles and wore body
armor, and when they leave that behind, they feel extremely
vulnerable," says Nettesheim, a longtime musician and guitar
teacher. "Putting that guitar in their hands — which they hold
quite like a rifle — gives them a sense of security and an
opportunity for healing."
Back in 2007,
Nettesheim fielded a call from Dan Van Buskirk, a Vietnam veteran
coping with post-traumatic stress disorder. Van Buskirk was seeking
out guitar lessons as part of his ongoing therapy.
convinced Nettesheim to help him out by performing for some of the men
on the Spinal Rehabilitation floor at the Zablocki Medical Center in
that, we took a couple of guitars with us," says Nettesheim.
"And we actually showed the guys how to play them."
Within a few
months, Nettesheim and Van Buskirk had formed Guitars 4 Vets, a
501(c)3 nonprofit organization that provides six free private lessons
and a new acoustic guitar to military veterans at VA medical and
community based veteran centers.
about putting the healing power of music into the hands of
"This is a program that helps veterans rediscover their joy and
start to heal."
Guitars 4 Vets
has given away about 1,000 guitars and 6,000 lessons to veterans, and
has grown to 15 chapters in 12 states with more ready to come on
and need for this program far exceeds our funding right now,"
says Nettesheim. "Our guitar instructors are volunteers; we’re
able to give every veteran the guitar package for under $200. We’re
pretty proud of that."
information on Guitars 4 Vets, log on to http://guitars4vets.org.