Guitars for Vets: Musical healing for heroes

The program provides free guitars and lessons for veterans.
Published: Apr. 5, 2021 at 5:56 PM EDT
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FINDLAY, Ohio (WTVG) - An organization in Findlay is helping to heal veterans from the inside out. Guitars for Vets gives veterans injured in the line of duty ten free guitar lessons and a guitar. There are more than 110 branches nationwide, but the Findlay branch is the only one in Northwest Ohio.

The Guitars for Vets goal is to put the healing power of music into the hands of heroes, and here in Hancock County, they’re doing just that.

“I felt like I had another formation to go to. I felt like there was something there. People to be there for me, and to teach me this music thing, this guitar,” says Ed Newton.

Newton is a 25-year veteran of the Army Reserves and a graduate of Findlay’s Guitars for Vets program, which was founded in 2019 by Paul Lilley.

“They might be sick, they might feel broken. But music provides a sanctuary,” says Lilley.

The Findlay chapter has already graduated 31 vets, which comes down to over 300 hours of lessons and 31 free guitars.

“Then you realize how grateful they are to you for your service, and then present you with this beautiful guitar, and it’s overwhelming,” says Waldman, a six-year Army vet who graduated last year.

The whole program is made possible by the partnership of the Hancock County Veterans Service Office.

“It’s been a great outreach tool for us, and I have seen how it has added value and quality of life to those veterans,” says Nichole Coleman, executive director of the office.

“I was playing the acoustic guitar... it all started reverberating through my body, and I thought this is amazing. This is a new level, and then I knew this was for me,” says Newton.

You can learn more about the Guitars for Vets Findlay on their Facebook page. There is a cyber chapter available here. If you are interested in creating your own Guitars for Vets branch, you can learn how to do that here. There are other programs for veterans offered at the Hancock County Veterans Services. Learn about those on their website.

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