This summer, the salsa band SON VETERANOS was honored to play for the first time outside of Puerto Rico.
We were invited to play in different venues in the Chicago metropolitan area and were later honored to be asked to play at the Kennedy Center on the 4th of July. It was an incredible honor for SON VETERANOS to play on such a prestigious stage on such a significant date.
For many of us, it was the first time visiting the Kennedy Center and the opportunity was a once in a lifetime experience for us all. We marveled at the fact of how far we had grown, all the obstacles we had overcome and how grateful we were that a small group of Veterans from an island which had been devastated from a hurricane not long ago was able to rise to the challenge and deliver our music and our message in one of the most prestigious centers of our Nation. We will always be grateful for the experience. It was an unforgettable and truly cherished experience for us all.
The SON VETERANOS began as a small musical therapeutic intervention within the VA Caribbean Healthcare System in Puerto Rico and has grown into a community-based program.The group is currently composed of 24-28 Veterans who have proven that music provides health and healing. Through their music they are able to positively impact their health and contribute to the well-being of other Veterans. The group has been invited to play in diverse community and cultural engagements within the hospital and around the island sharing a message of hope and resiliency.
The SON VETERANOS is open to Veterans enrolled in specific clinics within the hospital. The group provides a creative outlet and a positive recovery tool for Veterans.
It is a project that validates the positive impact our heroes can have in their communities once completing their time in service and highlights the talents and the cultural heritage of our the Puerto Rican soldier.
Raquel Gonzales-Hodge is a recreational therapist out of the VA Caribbean Healthcare System who worked with SON VETERANOS.
Video produced by Ben Pekkanen