Vets Canada gives guitars to veterans with mental health issues
Program aims to help Canadian soldiers with healing power of music
A new program in Sudbury, Ont., hopes to bring peace to veterans experiencing mental health issues by offering a different kind of therapy — the comforting sound of music.
Vets Canada, based in Halifax, is the group behind the national project aimed at putting guitars in the hands of veterans.
The group was started five years ago by a veteran who found comfort in playing a guitar while dealing with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). On their website, the organization said they're striving "to meet the needs of veterans in crisis across Canada."
Jonny Aho is one of the people in Sudbury trying to collect guitars for those veterans in need of mental relief. He said playing the instrument is like therapy for him.
- Veteran with PTSD finds dog therapy beats medication
- Service dogs help military veterans cope with PTSD
- Soldiers at higher risk of suicide after serving in war zone
"It takes you away. You get lost in the song. And you forget about your day for the three minutes or [however] long you keep playing your guitar — which puts you in a better mood."
Aho said the group is accepting both new and used guitars. The instruments will go to any soldier who wants one along with 10 free guitar lessons taught by volunteers.
When you put the guitar in a person's hand, it makes them think about different things.- Gina Rovak, Vets Canada
Gina Rovak, who heads the program in Ontario, said in the last year the project has exploded. The group has already collected hundreds of guitars with their eyes set on even more.
Rovak told CBC News she has seen veterans with severe PTSD lift themselves out of their mental illness after picking up the instrument.
"When you put the guitar in a person's hand, it makes them think about different things," Rovak said. "We get them out of the basement. That's kind of the thing we're trying to do. Trying to get them back out of the house and into life."
If you want to donate a guitar in the city, you can bring instruments to the Rock Harley Davidson at 2240 Long Lake Road in Sudbury.
With files from Marina von Stackelberg