The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Program helps veterans through music

Guitars+for+Heroes+performs+at+the+Veterans+Week+Celebration+Nov.+6+on+South+Campus.+The+program+helps+veterans+overcome+difficulties+through+music+and+other+activities.
Guitars for Heroes performs at the Veterans Week Celebration Nov. 6 on South Campus. The program helps veterans overcome difficulties through music and other activities. Photo by Carmelita Goen/The Collegian

By Richard Marmolejo/campus editor

Students came together to watch an all-veteran band perform Nov. 6 during South Campus’ Veterans Week celebration.

Guitars for Heroes, an organization established in 2012, consists of a 12-week program where veterans attend weekly meetings to learn how to play the guitar and other musical instruments at no cost.

South student, Navy veteran and the band’s lead singer Bill Yohn verified the power of the organization and acknowledged his own personal gain from it.

“These guys, through the power of music, come back and find out not only how to play guitar but [also find ways to] reintegrate as people and focus back on reality,” he said.

Guitars for Heroes is funded by donations and run by volunteers. The band goes around playing at different venues, raising money to keep the program going.

The program offers more than just music lessons, Yohn said.

“They offer ceramics, leather work, harmonica lessons, fencing lessons, aquatic lessons, bowling, archery,” he said. “It’s all geared up for physical fitness and physical therapy, which the more active you are, the more active life is. You get out of life what you put into it.”

The program has seen success among its members. For instance, Yohn explained how it helped a member recovering from post-war injuries.

Guitars for Heroes lead singer Bill Yohn entertains a South Campus audience at the Veterans Week celebration Nov. 6.
Guitars for Heroes lead singer Bill Yohn entertains a South Campus audience at the Veterans Week celebration Nov. 6.
Photo by Carmelita Goen/The Collegian

“There’s a guy in our band who’s a combat veteran out of Fallujah [Iraq],” he said. “He’s got a stimulator in his brain that sends signals to him to keep his motor skills working. Two years ago, he couldn’t walk and talk at the same time, and now he’s playing guitar and singing live in a band. It’s fantastic, the power of music.”

This is the second time the band has performed at the college, and they received a positive response.

South student and veteran Michael Bradden likes the thought of giving veterans exposure throughout the campus in a way that helps them cope with their personal struggles.

“I think programs like this are actually very helpful considering that a lot of veterans do have PTSD, and currently suicide rates are up,” he said. “A lot of them don’t have an outlet or they don’t want to talk about issues that are going on. So, having a program like this, I think, is extremely helpful for them to get around other people and to just give them an outlet for their stress.”

Bradden also shared some personal experiences regarding music and his service.

“When I was serving, I used to listen to Hollywood Undead, Five Finger Death Punch and Metallica,” Bradden said. “Music does help you with soothing your mood, or it might just be speaking something that’s going through your mind right then and there.”

TCC alumna Kassandra Dobbs, who was in the audience, appreciated the band’s performance as it helped her enjoy the moment and forget about her worries while bringing people together, she said.

“I know the healing power of music is very strong,” Dobbs said. “It’s a way people use to cope with things in their life. I really enjoyed the performance. It was very cool to have a break like that from school and get to see the more creative side of people come out.”

While there are many clubs and organizations in school, there are not enough to represent the whole veteran community, Dobbs said.

“I think it [Guitars for Heroes] is extremely important,” she said. “Many of the times organizations for campuses are focused mostly around educational purposes. But it’s also good to keep in mind that there’s organizations such as this one which really help many people who have served our country. It’s a good way to give back to them.”

Everyone is welcome to participate in Guitars for Heroes, Yohn said. He encourages veterans who might be a bit hesitant to reach out and get involved.

“I want to let them [veterans] know that there’s something out there for them,” Yohn said. “You are not alone.”

For more information on the Guitars for Heroes program, contact Donna Gerron at donna.gerron@va.gov.

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