In Your NeighborhoodCharlotte - Eaton Rapids


VFW National Home celebrates first graduating class of Guitars for Vets program

Posted at 11:46 PM, May 26, 2023
and last updated 2023-05-26 23:46:49-04

EATON RAPIDS, Mich. — I made my way inside the VFW National Home in Eaton Rapids, where this month, they're celebrating the first graduating class of their Guitars for Vets program. I got to listen to some of the music, and got to hear why that music is such a healing force for this group of veterans.

Note by note, and chord by chord, a group of veterans are finding their tune.

"We all perceive music differently, but at the same time, it's a force of inspiration and healing," said program graduate Travis Mandenburg.

For Mandenburg, music is a chance to grow and learn from others.

"Guitars for Vets means a something a little different for every veteran," he said.

This is the inaugural graduating class of the program, which includes 10 weeks of lessons ahead of a private recital, but leaders say the end goal is much bigger than the performance.

"The National Home is working really hard to bring more programs to campus. I know music therapy works. I've seen it at the VA, and Guitars for Vets has been around for several years," said Executive Director Michael Wilson.

Wilson said it wasn't easy to get the program started on the right note, but any challenge was worth the effort.

"We had a hard time finding local guitarist to help us teach, I come from a world of live entertainment, and I have a friend that I play music with, and I said 'can you help find me some guitar players to come help teach this,' and he lives over 50 miles away, and he said 'I will do it,'" Wilson said.

And now, one graduating class later, they're confident the future is bright.

"It's one of those programs that's easily bought here, and we can sustain over time, and do it over and over again," Wilson said.

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Travis Hicks

3:45 PM, May 23, 2022

Charlotte & Eaton Rapids

Neighborhood Reporter

Travis Hicks

FOX 47 News Neighborhood Newsletter