How One Guitar Can Change a Life: CreatiVets

Veterans can have a difficult time adjusting after they get come home from war. Many are unable to fully heal through traditional coping mechanisms and therapy programs. This is where CreatiVets comes in, and why we like to support this organization which is dedicated to making sure that every veteran who goes through their program can live their best life.

Every month, CreatiVets provides housing, transportation, food, and every other trip expense for two veterans to have the chance to come to Nashville to write with professional songwriters on Music Row. Guitars 4 Gifts provides each veteran with a guitar that they can then use to continue writing songs whenever they want.

Richard Casper, a veteran, founded this program after learning how art and music helped him tell his story.

“When I discovered that art and music had helped save my life I knew that it could do it for other combat veterans. I decided to make programs based off how I felt when I was severely depressed and anxious and what I would have needed to be able to go through a program. Thats why CreatiVets pays for the veterans flights, food, tuition, entertainment, Hotels, dorm rooms, etc... to Nashville and the best art schools in the country. I wanted to make sure veterans wouldn't say no to an opportunity to heal themselves through the arts.”

One of the last veterans they had in town was a Vietnam combat veteran. He had been through some very traumatic experiences and didn't know how to talk about them. At the end of a four hour writing session he said he felt like a 30 year old weight was lifted off of him. 

They were able to do the cowrite with this veteran at the Grand Ole Opry, and are the first songwriters that have written a song in the back rooms of the Opry (that’s what the Opry staff said). Not only did the veteran love it, but so did the songwriters. Even the most accomplished songwriters jumped at the chance to write at the Opry while helping a veteran heal. 

Each veteran is able to go home from this program with a professionally written song, as well as a guitar and some guitar accessories to help them continue to heal though music.

Guitars 4 Gifts provides a Recording King Guitar, Fishman Tuner, Kyser Capo, and D’Addario strings for each veteran to keep.

How One Guitar Can Change A Life: Refugees

Recently, G4G visited a non-profit for teen refugees where they can receive help with tutoring, college applications, drivers ed, and much more called Legacy Mission Village. Many of the teen refugees have no one to help them with their college applications or school work. Many of them know little English when they start school in the US. They are placed in school based on their age, not how much prior schooling they received. Often, their parents do not know any English, and therefore, are unable to help them with their schoolwork. Programs like Legacy Mission Village help them thrive in their new life.

Music is meant to be felt. Many refugees come to the US with very little, but they are able to bring their voice and songs with them. Music has deep roots in their life and culture, and it can help them to learn, adjust to their new life, or just have fun.

Most of the teens in this program have an intense love for music. They have songs from their native country that they love to sing. Learning the guitar helps them connect with other teens their own age. After learning about their program and the teens' love for music, G4G decided to donate a couple guitars and a cajon. As soon as we brought in the guitars, the teens started jamming. Many of them have been playing for less that a year, but they have been able to pick up new songs quicker than anyone I have ever seen. It was amazing to see how much someone can love playing music. Most of their songs were in different languages, but everyone in the room was enamored by the joy you felt as they performed.

In Nashville (and anywhere, really) it can be easy to get caught up in playing music for some other personal benefit, but these teens play music just because they love it. They taught me how important it is to be grateful, and to be passionate about what you are doing. I was able to talk to one girl about how much she loves music, and how much she appreciates being able to use a guitar whenever she is at the teen program. Check out our Instagram (@guitars4gifts) for a video of the jam session!

Lastly, thank you to all of you for your support. We hope that you enjoy hearing stories about the power of music.