Do you know about the Veterans in Art (VIA) program launched three years ago at The Hub on Canal? VIA serves our wounded warriors and disabled veterans by offering art and music programs through VIA scholarships. Since VIA’s inception, we have served more than 13 veterans with art and music classes of their choice. Perhaps you heard about The Hub’s VIA program at our music night events in November on or around Veterans Day, where we honor our veterans. Our veteran band always draws a big crowd and the featured artwork of participating veterans provides a showcase for their talents. Moreover, the veterans music event highlights how the arts are contributing to the recovery of veterans struggling with challenges like PTSD.
The VIA story continues. Last year, in partnership with the Veterans Administration resource and recovery center in Port Orange, we joined with other organizations in Volusia county to create an online listing of art and music programs offered to area veterans. Through this collaboration we learned about the desire to provide more access to music as a path to recovery. To fill that need, David Maib, a VIA volunteer at The Hub, and Dr. Tracii Kunkel from the Veterans Center in Port Orange began the process of creating a local chapter of the national organization Guitars for Vets (G4V). Through the local chapter The Hub now provides practice guitars and lessons to more than 16 local area veterans. The first group lessons began this past July and the demand has grown rapidly from one to four group lessons per week. The following is a blog from the Port Orange/New Smyrna Beach Guitars for Vets Facebook page. I think it tells it all:
Guitars for Vets chapters differ a bit on how they run, largely based on available resources. In the VA, space is probably the most valuable and scarce resource we have, and to get access to a group room can be a challenge. We are blessed here to have access to not only one room, but multiple that allow us to have 2-3 groups running at once. We also have many caring and qualified musicians with the time and desire to volunteer to provide instruction, and community support. As such, we have been able to structure a program based on how I like to teach guitar – integrating music theory as one is learning the mechanics of guitar playing. I tell veterans in the program that “We are training MUSICIANS, you just happen to be using the guitar as your voice right now.” Most veterans enter the group format and remain there until they have the basics of the mechanics and the knowledge, then go into personalized individual lessons to “fine tune and push forward” in a direction they want to pursue. I am constantly looking for ideas to improve how we can teach, and often have videos running in the background while doing other things. Today I caught this one, which captures what we are trying to do and why perfectly.
Now that you know the story, I’m sure you are wondering how you can help. Here are ways to help us grow this wonderful program in support of our local veterans:
- 1.Donate your (or your father’s, mother’s, neighbor’s) used acoustic guitars to The Hub for use in the G4V program.
- 2.Go to the G4V Facebook page, Port Orange/New Smyrna Beach Guitars for Vets, and make a donation.
- 3.Or the best way – join us on Memorial Day, Sunday, May 26 from 2-6 pm at The Hub on Canal for our Guitars for Vets fundraiser.