MILITARY MATTERS: Veterans Getting Help in Augusta, One Guitar Strum At A Time

Published: Jun. 15, 2023 at 11:01 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WTVM) - Helping veterans in Georgia through struggles, by giving them a free guitar and teaching them how to play it, is the mission of non-profit Guitars for Vets.

For veterans like David Morerro, this is more than a chance to learn a new instrument, but he calls it “another form of therapy for me.”

It started as a way to help him, while he was battling mental health challenges brought on by a 30 year military career.

“I was having mental issues. Sleep, family life was going down the drain. And I just, I wasn’t in control, like I normally was used to being,” Army vet (1997-2018) and program administrator David Morerro said.

And that’s when he found Guitars for Vets. Their mission is to help veterans like him who struggle with PTSD.

“Sometimes just a minute or two minutes of that, you know, we’re just getting lost in space, that gives you that reprieve,” he added.

Morerro wanted to start a chapter in Augusta Georgia to help himself and other veterans like Bruce Neal, who said, “it started a lot of emotional and mental healing.”

And he’s noticed it with other participants in the program.

Neal, an Army veteran (1982-1984) and Guita for Vets instructor, said “You talk to a lot of veterans and they don’t say a word and um they get into this and it’s like a lightbulb goes off.”

It also fosters a community, something Jen-Liz Maldonado says she needed after coming back home from the service.

“Just coming back here and meeting new people who can relate to what I relate to. We all can bond and feel kind of normal in this transition time,” Air Force veteran and recent Guitars for Vets grad Maldonado said.

“You get to playing music and it does something for you, It changed me, it changed them, it’s going to change others who come through this program,” Neal said.

Between healing and a sense of community, it’s changing lives, one strum at a time.

“It does give you a purpose. It gives you a something to strive for something to continue to perfect,” Morerro said.

The program is twelve weeks but also has an advanced class for those who want to keep playing. Veterans who graduate will receive a free guitar.