Established in 2007, Guitars for Vets, a non-profit organization, came together when Marine Corps Veteran Dan Van Buskirk took months of guitar lessons from Patrick Nettesheim. Through their lessons, Van Buskirk was able to learn to play the guitar and since then, the two became friends. Both realized that these lessons created an outlet for expression as well as provided a positive interaction. Together they went to the Clement J. Zablocki VA Medical Center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin to share their story. Since then, Guitars for Vets, or G4V, has expanded to be operating out of 110 VA chapters in 40 states.
The G4V guitar instruction program can help Veterans working through physical injuries, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other forms of emotional distress. Music therapy is an evidence-based clinical treatment designed to help Veterans through music. The therapy can help improve Veterans’ communication, coordination and interpersonal skills. Nettesheim also developed the G4V “four-way path,” which consists of Patience, Acceptance, Gratitude and Empathy (PAGE). These are the guiding principles used throughout the program.
The G4V program starts with a 10-week instruction period. During this time Veterans are given one-on-one individualized lessons. They promote teaching the music that appeals to the student and works at the students’ pace. After completing the lessons, the graduation process involves receiving a free acoustic guitar and guitar accessory kit. The next step is to continue practicing and learning. Each month there are group sessions organized by one of the 110 chapters and growing. The group sessions develop a community of fellow Veterans and guitarist. To date, GV4 has provided over 4,000 guitars to Veterans.
Enrollment in G4V requires a referral from a case or social worker to a local VA office that offers a G4V program. G4V does not control admission into the program. To find a local chapter they offer a locator tool on their site https://guitars4vets.org/about-us/find-a-chapter/.
The sharing of any non-VA information does not constitute an endorsement of products and services on part of the VA.
Writer: Aristeo Hernandez
Editor: Kelly Dooley
Graphics: Michelle Zischke