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Vietnam veteran helps others cope with PTSD through music

Jonathan Knox playing the guitar
Jonathan Knox playing the guitar(WVIR)
Updated: Mar. 22, 2021 at 7:30 PM EDT
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ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va. (WVIR) - Coping with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a challenge for many veterans. That’s why one organization is putting music into the hands of our heroes and helping them heal.

“Just to sit on your couch and play your guitar is very good and relaxes the whole body. That’s the reason I’m still here today,” guitar instructor, Curt Bean said.

Playing the guitar can be soothing for the soul.

“When I played music, my personality changed for the better, so I kept it up more and more, and here I am which is good,” Bean said.

Music saved Vietnam War veteran, Curt Bean.

“I do have PTSD,” Bean said.

Bean says playing the guitar helps relieve tension and stress. “I didn’t realize what it was doing for me until I heard about Guitars 4 Veterans.”

Now, he gifts the healing power of music to other veterans through the nonprofit, Guitars 4 Vets. The organization’s mission is to help veterans who may be struggling by giving them a sense of community through music.

“If I get one student a year that’s good,” Bean said.

Bean is the Guitar 4 Veterans chapter coordinator in Charlottesville. He gives 10 private lessons to veterans at the American Legion Post 74. The space is donated to the organization, but when the pandemic began the lessons had to switch to a Zoom platform.

“They’ve been very creative to keep the program going during COVID and we commend them for that,” commander of the American Legion Post 74, Bruce Eades said. “We try to do what we can for the community.”

Bean says music is a powerful tool. “The music uses a different side of the brain and relieves the tension from the PTSD.”

Jonathan Knox learned how to play guitar last year from Bean. He says learning the guitar has given him a new voice.

“It enables me to process things. It gets my emotions out. I can feel things when I’m playing. That makes it easier to deal with things,” Knox said. “I’m very thankful for everything that Guitars 4 Vets was able to do it for me.”

After 10 lessons, each student in the program is gifted with their own acoustic guitar.

“I can’t say enough about it,” Knox said. “Being able to play, also we can express ourselves through music in ways that we can’t through voice.”

Watching his students play each chord, Bean says, is priceless. “The feeling I get is defined to give. That’s the feeling I get. You can’t put money on that.”

$200 can help one veteran through the Guitars 4 Vets program. If you’re interested in making a donation, you can visit Guitars4Vets.org.

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