The Library of Congress Veterans History Project (VHP) will observe Post-Traumatic Stress Awareness Month with a panel discussion on Wednesday, June 23, as part of a virtual program titled “Post Traumatic Stress & Music: The Healing Power of Song.”
The discussion will debut at 8 p.m. ET through the Veterans History Project Facebook page where panelists and a moderator will be available to answer questions and address remarks in the comments section.
Every veteran has stories to tell, but those stories don’t end when they leave the military, nor do they leave all of their wounds and traumas behind. A 2017 study found that Post-Traumatic Stress (PTS) affects nearly 13% of U.S. veterans compared to 7-8% of the total U.S. population according to the Veterans Administration. Confronting and coping with these life-altering symptoms is as much a part of veterans’ stories as anything they experience while deployed or on duty. One way some veterans cope is through harnessing the healing power of music. Whether writing, playing or performing it, music can be a helpful tool to veterans learning to cope with “invisible” wounds.
Although music therapy has been in the toolbox to improve mood and behavior since the early 19th century, the practice formally began after World War I and World War II, when musicians went to Veterans hospitals to play for veterans affected by physical and emotional trauma from the wars, according to the American Music Therapy Association. Now it is widely used – and funded by the federal government – to treat veterans with PTS.
“We need to reduce the stigma (with PTS) and create more therapeutic service delivery models that are culturally acceptable,” said Rob Jackson, co-founder and executive director of Beats, Rhymes, and Life, and the panel’s moderator.
The conversation will explore some of those models, including the efforts of musicians and music-based organizations to help veterans diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress, and share stories of how veterans have used music to cope with serious conditions. The panel will be introduced by Gary Sinise, founding member of the Lt. Dan Band, who says music can “turn slumped shoulders into lifted spirits” and that playing rock and roll for veterans is a way to honor their service.
Panelists for the program include:
- Bob Regan – An American country music songwriter and founder of Operation Song, a Nashville-based nonprofit program that pairs veterans, active-duty military and their families with professional songwriters to help them tell their stories through song.
- Patrick Nettesheim – A Milwaukee-based guitar instructor, composer, performer and co-founder of Guitars for Vets, a nonprofit organization that offers ailing and injured veterans free guitars and music instruction.
- George “Doc” Todd – An Atlanta-based combat medic who served as a Fleet Marine Force corpsman in Afghanistan. Upon returning home, “Doc” created a hip-hop album titled “Combat Medicine,” aimed at empowering veterans and helping to improve military personnel’s mental health.
The Veterans History Project has hosted PTS Awareness events since 2014. You can view more panel discussions at loc.gov and stories of service from veterans at loc.gov/vets/stories/ex-war-ptsd.html
Congress created the Veterans History Project in 2000 to collect, preserve and make accessible the firsthand remembrances of United States veterans from World War I through the more recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, so those future generations may hear directly from veterans and better understand the realities of war. For more information, visit loc.gov/vets/ or call the toll-free message line at (888) 371-5848. Subscribe to the VHP RSS to receive periodic updates of VHP news. Follow VHP on Facebook @vetshistoryproject.