Guitar donations help veterans cope with PTSD
'We found a lot of vets suffer from PTSD and playing guitar helped me transition from the military'
Justin Lord said it was "pretty strange" coming home to P.E.I. after serving in Afghanistan in 2004. But it wasn't until about 10 years later that he realized the toll the war had taken on him.
"I had some PTSD from that," he said. "There was some depression I worked through too."
Lord is feeling better these days, thanks in part to a national program called Guitars for Vets. It was started by Jim Lowther of Vets Canada, an organization based in Dartmouth, N.S., that works with vets going through transition.
"We found a lot of vets suffer from PTSD and playing guitar helped me transition from the military and I figured that if it helped me, it would help everyone," Lowther said.
"About a year-and-a-half ago, we started seeing a lot of suicides. I felt the need to try to push this again and to try to help as many as we could. We've been going strong ever since."
There are a lot of people who want to try to help themselves and music is so therapeutic.– Jim Lowther of Vets Canada
Lowther arranges donations of guitars and 10 free lessons for vets. He's had more than 480 guitars donated so far from around the country.
"The need is there," he said. "There are a lot of people who want to try to help themselves and music is so therapeutic. It just takes you to another place."
Time for himself
Lord, who now works at the Department of Veteran's Affairs in Charlottetown, said Guitars for Vets helped him make time for himself.
"It might be an innate soldier thing to put everyone first, but taking that time to focus on you and pulling back and shutting out the rest if the world and just doing that one thing is pretty big sometimes," he said.
"If nothing else, I got home and expertly picked out Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and my little girl sang it and I had tears in my eyes and I'm like, you know, if anything else that was worth it just for that one moment."
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with files from Karen Mair