Recently I met with Tom Baker, Gordon Law, and Garth Miller to chat with them about the organization Frets 4 Vets. A new non profit 501 c3 organization to help veterans with PTSD. The goal of this non-profit organization, according to Tom Baker is to treat PTSD and or depression by focusing the mind and emotional release through guitar instruction and ultimately music.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is very real for many veterans. On the Frets 4 Vets Facebook page they posted this message about PTSD … ” When you are in the military, you may see combat. You may have been on missions that exposed you to horrible and life-threatening experiences. These types of events can lead to PTSD. The number of Veterans with PTSD varies by service era:
Operations Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and Enduring Freedom (OEF): About 11-20 out of every 100 Veterans (or between 11-20%) who served in OIF or OEF have PTSD in a given year.
Gulf War (Desert Storm): About 12 out of every 100 Gulf War Veterans (or 12%) have PTSD in a given year.
Vietnam War: About 15 out of every 100 Vietnam Veterans (or 15%) were currently diagnosed with PTSD at the time of the most recent study in the late 1980s, the National Vietnam Veterans Readjustment Study (NVVRS). It is estimated that about 30 out of every 100 (or 30%) of Vietnam Veterans have had PTSD in their lifetime. Other factors in a combat situation can add more stress to an already stressful situation. This may contribute to PTSD and other mental health problems. These factors include what you do in the war, the politics around the war, where the war is fought, and the type of enemy you face.”
I asked Tom Baker what is your goal with Frets 4 Vets? My dad was in the Navy and my Father in law was in the Army. My wife and I are only children of only children and we wanted to leave a legacy. I tried to work with a few organizations that already try to help vets through music, but there were too many limitations. The main one being that only combat vets qualified for these other organization’s programs. One organization even uses an acoustic guitar for their program that is made in China. I knew I could do better and for many more. Why help only ten vets, when you can help ten thousand? My goal is to take this program to all the American Legions across the country.
This program that Frets 4 Vets hosts is run solely with donations, and the members time. Not only is the guitar built, and donated by Tom Baker, but his time as well. ” I am writing the curriculum on a tablet that can be used nationwide.” The American Legion Post 28 is helping them with space to hold their lessons. “The Sons of the American Legion Squadron 28 officers really got behind this idea” said Gordon Law. I started helping Tom with this recently, not long ago I saw a post on Facebook and I reached out to see how I could help. We met with the Sons of the American Legion Squadron 28 board and they agreed to help us anyway they can, and they have been very supportive. I wanted him to build a guitar in the shape of Delaware. Unfortunately that was not feasible to play, so we settled on a guitar made out of cherry, with a laser etched map of the eastern shore. There are two stars on the map where the American Legion Post 28 is located on route 24 and one for Tom’s shop in Georgetown.
Garth Miller is helping out Frets 4 Vets, he is a member of the Sons of the American Legion Squadron 28. For sixteen weeks we teach them to play guitar. Upon successful completion of that sixteen week program, the student is given a custom-made guitar built by Tom Baker and his company, BB Custom instruments located in Georgetown, Delaware. They are given the choice of learning bass, lead, or rhythm guitar. Once they complete the program they are given the choice to continue with more lessons for five dollars a week, all of that money is donated back to the Legion. During their first sixteen weeks of lessons after four weeks they can participate in biweekly jam sessions. These are led by a trained mental health therapist, which adds to the program’s ability to help vets with PTSD. Paul Cullen from Bad Company is going to volunteer some of his time to help Frets 4 Vets with these lessons. “Giving back to our community and showing appreciation to the soldiers that risk their lives for our freedom is extremely important to me … Paul Cullen” If you can help Frets 4 Vets with this noble cause please check their website and donate, or donate your time.