Whidbey Island Chapter Donates Guitars to Veterans With PTSD

Whidbey Island Chapter Donates Guitars to Veterans With PTSD
Cmdr. Bill Goodman, USN (Ret), far right, of the Whidbey Island (Wash.) Chapter, presents three guitars to Guitars for Vets. (Courtesy Photo)

When members of the Whidbey Island (Wash.) Chapter learned about a local organization using music to help veterans with PTSD, they wanted to find a way to help.


The organization, Guitars for Vets, “shares the healing power of music in several forms,” said Melissa Johnson, chapter coordinator and guitar instructor for Guitars for Vets.


“We provide a practice guitar and accessories for veterans who don't have access to a guitar for lessons and practice,” she said. “After completing 10 lessons they graduate and we award them a bundle including a brand new guitar and accessories like tuners, capo, gig bag, guitar stand, music books, guitar polish, and more. Many of our students profess that our program saved their life,” she said. “We've heard they are in a better mood [and] better mind space, form healthier habits, feel a sense of camaraderie again, etc.”


Chapter President Cmdr. Terry Sparks, USN (Ret), and Cmdr. Bill Goodman, USN (Ret), a chapter program director, both grew up with music, played guitars, and had their own rock bands in high school. Sparks said he understands the value and impact of music.


“My mom always said it was a good thing I picked up music or I would have been in trouble, and I probably would have been,” said Sparks. “It was a focus for me. Bill and I appreciate what Guitars for Vets is doing and realize how music can make difference. It’s a worthy cause.”


The chapter applied for and received a Community Outreach Grant from The MOAA Foundation, which they used to purchase three guitars for Guitars for Vets.


[RELATED: 42 MOAA Affiliates Receive Grants From The MOAA Foundation]


Goodman and Johnson worked with the owner of a local music store, Click Music, in Oak Harbor, who gave them a discount on the guitars.


In November 2023, the chapter officially presented two guitars to Johnson to be used as practice instruments for new students and one to a recent graduate of the program.


“The Whidbey Island Chapter’s donation of three guitars to us is amazing,” said Johnson. “Without practice guitars our program wouldn't work quite as well nor would it reach as many veterans. Without practice guitars, our students would have to secure their own guitar, which would prevent a lot of veterans from participating.”


Sparks said the chapter hopes to continue its support of Guitars for Vets and is grateful for the Community Outreach Grant the chapter received.


“We saw something wanted to do, and we wouldn’t have been able to get there without The MOAA Foundation,” Sparks said.  


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About the Author

Blair Drake
Blair Drake

As managing editor of Military Officer, Drake coordinates and edits content for the magazine, including the Never Stop Serving section.