Updated: May 17, 2019
I spoke with Ron Burns (Director) and Art Nitsch ( Assistant Director) about "Rec4Heroes", a non profit ran by volunteer veterans that are musicians trying to combat mental health issues through the use of music. It began in 2012 at the Fort Worth, Texas Veteran Affairs hospital. Through the combined help of the VA and the Elks lodge began a partnership to help veterans with PTSD, anxiety, depression, TBI’s, or any other issue regarding their mental health status, to combat the ailment through music.
Creating an opportunity to express what they’re going through by creating music to counteract it. It began as a 12 week course that provided an acoustic guitar and lessons free of charge to the veteran. The program is overseen by a recreational therapist at the Ft Worth VA Outpatient Clinic. Imagine group therapy with guitars, but with the music coming first and gaining a sense of brotherhood in which you may feel comfortable to share what’s going on in your life. If the veteran completes 10 out of the 12 classes, they can graduate and take their new guitar home.
Next stop songwriting, fame and riches. Any musician understands that tongue in cheek joke. A musician will pack $500 worth of gear in a $2000 car and drive 50 miles for a gig that will probably only pay him or her $50. Welcome to the club ladies and gentlemen. Hope to hear you on the airwaves.
The Dayton chapter has began their first class with teachers Ron Burns, Art Nitsch, and Wayne Seibert (Vietnam Veteran). This current class has 10 veterans that they are meeting with once a week.
Ron Burns served 12 ½ years in the Air Force. He was medically retired after being injured from the terrorist attack of the “Khobar Towers Bombing”. After suffering from a TBI and a stroke. He lost the ability to play the piano. He has picked back up the guitar and began sharing his story and motivating others around him to push forward in the face of adversity. Not only does he see the impact it has on these veterans lives, but also went through the program himself and wanted to help others.
Art Nitsch is an Air Force veteran who served with the Air Force band program during his twenty-year career. As a member of the Air Force band he was never in combat as many others veterans were. Art met Ron in September, 2018, and after learning Ron’s story and how the Guitars for Heroes program helped him, Art immediately felt like this was a way to give back to his fellow veterans in helping Ron bring the classes to Dayton. This was a way to use his musical knowledge to help veterans cope through the power of music. Working together, they formed the Dayton Guitars for Heroes Band.
Dayton Guitars 4 Heroes Band
These group of veterans not only teach the classes and are apart of different veteran organizations in the area. But they are in a band that promotes what the classes do for veterans. They play shows around the region and try to gather support for what the group is trying to accomplish. All the money and donations given to the band are pumped back into Rec4Heroes campaign.
22 Veterans take their lives everyday. The program as a whole is trying and have passed 500 people through their doors successfully. They are trying to help those with these stressors find an outlet in a new passion. As a Marine Corps veteran with PTSD myself, using music as an outlet has helped me tremendously and works.
I did this interview in early March. It took me a while to write it because shortly after, a fellow Marine I served with took his own life. I wish he knew about a program like this. It could have saved his life and I have faith that this will help many veterans in the future.
Contact Info: (817) 600-4785 // firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you for reading.
(Onward and Upward Dayton)