School of Education Professor Leads Initiative to Help Local Veterans Cope Through Music
Dr. Jeremy Linton, counseling and human services professor in the Indiana University South Bend School of Education, is pursuing a different approach than standard counseling to support local veterans: guitar lessons. He has started a new South Bend chapter of Guitars for Vets, a national nonprofit organization whose mission is to help veterans recover from trauma and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) through the process of learning to play guitar. “It is truly a powerful and effective program,” says Jeremy.
Through the South Bend chapter of Guitars for Vets, Jeremy and a team of volunteers will offer guitar lessons at the South Bend Vet Center to local veterans as a way to find comfort through music and connect with others. Each participant receives 10 lessons and at the end they receive a free guitar of their own to keep. “Playing the guitar helps with trauma because they can focus on something positive, work toward a goal, and get immediate feedback. When they are concentrating on it, everything else just kind of goes away,” explains Jeremy. “It gives them a sense of achievement and purpose.”
The healing power of music is also something Jeremy himself has personal experience with – he learned how to play the guitar in 2020 through virtual Zoom lessons. “It’s been a lifelong dream of mine to play guitar. In the middle of the dark days of the pandemic, it was something to focus on and helped me set tangible goals. This made me want to share the power of music with other people.”
As the program grows, Jeremy eventually hopes to be able to build a community that continues after the lessons are completed. “I’m most excited about getting people with similar experiences together to do something fun and positive and have camaraderie.”
The South Bend Guitars for Vets chapter is open to donations of time, musical equipment, or cash. “We are looking for volunteer instructors to donate as much or little time as they have to teach vets how to play guitar. The only thing you need to know how to do is play guitar and exercise patience with the learning process. We are also looking for instrument donations. Of course, we are mostly interested in guitars, but we take any other instruments as well – they are sold and the proceeds go towards guitar purchases and other programming,” says Jeremy.
Those who are interested in helping the South Bend chapter of Guitars for Vets in any way can reach out to Jeremy at firstname.lastname@example.org.