Music

Guitars 4 Vets battles PTSD with music

VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. — The mental health of our veterans is a growing problem. 

According to statistics from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, nearly a million US veterans suffer from PTSD, with more than 17 veterans a day committing suicide a day.

But one local non profit is looking to help change that through the healing power of music.


What You Need To Know

  • A program in Central Florida is providing help for struggling veterans through the power of learning music
  • MORE INFORMATION: Guitars for Vets
  • To donate or get involved with the Port Orange/New Smyrna Beach chapter, contact David Maib at fl.nsb@guitarsforvets.org

Veteran Brian Lobb has only been learning to play the guitar for a few weeks. 

“It is very much underplayed the finger pain that you get when you first start, when you first got to toughen up your fingers and then he shows me the videos of the fifth graders doing it and then I’m like I’ve got to shut up I’m a marine I can take this,” said Lobb. 

But under the guidance of Army veteran and volunteer instructor Edward Tobin, he’s already starting to get the hang of it. This is all part of the Guitars 4 Vets program,  which Lobb heard about while going for therapy at the VA.

“He is like have you heard of guitars for vets? And I was like no never heard of it. And they are like well these are a great group of people that want to come out and help veterans learn to play guitar and I am like well that sounds good but I don’t really have the money to get started on doing anything like that and they were like don’t worry about it we’ve got all loaner stuff,” said Lobb. 

Looking to get help for his PTSD outside of medication, Lobb enrolled right away. Having deployed to Somalia, Okinawa and the Middle East,  even years later, dealing with PTSD from that can be overwhelming.

“Dreams, sometimes disillusionment with you know establishments things like that, always watching your back, just kind of puts you in a weird way mostly,” said Lobb. 

But since starting this program at the Port Orange/New Smyrna Beach chapter, he says he’s already felt a difference.

“Having something tough that can keep your brain focused…It is just something that keeps you going, keeps you motivated, gives you another sense of goals, sense of accomplishments  things like that,” said Lobb.

He’s not the only one. Guitars for Vets has fulfilled over 50,000 lessons and given out out 5,000 guitars for free to military veterans.  

research study of students  in the program showed a 21% improvement in PTSD symptoms and a 27% decrease in related depression symptoms. It’s something Tobin has noticed himself in his four years of teaching.

“I’ve been able to see them progress from being withdrawn not going outside their little realm and becoming much more open to the world so that part has been very rewarding for me,” said Tobin. 

As for Lobb, he’s excited to keep moving forward— in life and in music.

“You can’t think what your next note is going to be if you are thinking about the past,” said Lobb. 

Upon graduation from the program, every veteran gets their own acoustic guitar. 

Guitars for Vets is always looking for donated guitars to pass on to their students and are accepting donations.

To donate or get involved with the Port Orange/New Smyrna Beach chapter, contact David Maib at fl.nsb@guitarsforvets.org

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