Music Therapy Mondays At The VA
Mondays are our VA days. Sam and I park, grab our gear and head to the Community Living Center which is the VA’s nursing home. Most VA Medical Centers have CLCs and Atlanta’s CLC has 50 Veterans who call the VA home. We hop in the elevator and up to “3” we go. We load in with an acoustic guitar, bass guitar, loudspeaker, percussion instruments, looping pedals, effects pedals, mics, cables, instrument stands and all the little gizmos about which us musicians geek.
First of all, Sam is a fantastic Board-Certified Music Therapist and, I, his roadie. He has a way of bringing things out of people that still amaze me. He uses music therapy to create sacred and special moments with our Veterans. In the first few minutes using one or two songs, he quickly ascertains where everyone is that morning (up to 20 Veterans) and then begins our programming with that in mind. Our goal is to create a safe, stimulating and fun space for our Veterans to communicate, express and connect.
History of Music Therapy
Especially relevant to our servicemen and women, Music Therapy actually started out of our military community after World War II. The VA noticed a significant percentage of serviceman coming back from the war were responding positively to music to cope with what they experienced. A study was commission by the Surgeon General’s office to research this musical phenomenon. From that study, modern day Music Therapy was born.
Most of our Veterans are either in wheel chairs or bed-bound. Music Therapy is a perfect way to meet them where they are at while still celebrating and validating their feelings and thoughts. I have seen it many times where someone’s body is not where they are socially, spiritually or emotionally. MT moves past limitations to focus on the person’s true self and authenticity. These true facets of the self transcend our earthly bodies. MT recognizes this self-affirming truth in us all.