BUCKHANNON — The Middle C Vets of Buckhannon have found comradery and connections through the power of six strings. If you’re a veteran and have ever thought about learning to play guitar, that opportunity will soon be available at the beginning of the new year.
We walk among veterans every day, but often do not understand their full story. Some gave all serving their country, but many who serve and make their way out come back changed in different ways. Some return with instabilities, whether financial, mental, emotional or physical. Often, they no longer see life the same or may struggle with adjusting back into society, but assistance is available for those who seek it. The Middle C Vets of Buckhannon provide an outlet for vets to do just that by allowing them to focus their time with guitars, music, God and fellowship with others who have also served our country.
“As far as what I understand, Guitars4Vets is no longer in the state of West Virginia. There are some folks in Clarksburg that started a new chapter called Vets with Guitars. When I was doing Guitars4Vets, it was always my intentions to start something here,” the Middle C Vets instructor and board member Patrick Brooks stated.
Brooks said the inspiration and urgency for developing this veteran’s music program evolved from time he spent giving lessons to a Vietnam veteran with PTSD. “Phil was 11 years special forces and ran the mountain at Canaan and passed away just a few weeks ago. I’ve given Phil lessons and one of the things about it, he was an overachiever at just about everything he did but lacked the confidence when it came to music. He had PTSD pretty bad and been through some things in Vietnam. As I was giving him lessons, Phil was able to come off some of his meds. Music had made an improvement in his life,” Brooks explained.
“Music is a healer and that’s what it’s all about,” Brooks stated. He mentioned there are nearly 2,000 veterans in Upshur County and said many face loneliness, isolation and health problems. The program sheds light and welcomes vets with the amenities of socialization, music and the opportunity of learning the guitar or continuing a desire to grow in music. Brooks said, “Any vets are welcome, whether you have experience or not, who have the desire to learn and be a part of something.” Board member K.J. Woody stated, “The way Brooks teaches is simplified and he does a wonderful job working with and teaching everyone. But of course, on a personal level, you’ve got to put the work in it.”
Brooks explained, “The information and lessons that are provided aren’t anything you can’t work through on your own, but you may miss the tips and tricks. You spend less time trying to figure out how music works. Typically, when someone learns to play an instrument, they’re trying to learn how to play guitar and understand music at the same time, which just doesn’t work very well that way. If you understand music, you can then better apply it to guitar or any other instrument about the same, and you’ll understand they all share common fundamentals – guitar is just the vehicle.”
Music and guitar have been a part of Brooks’ whole life and he has been teaching for roughly 40 years. The program just got started in September of 2018. Having great respect for our veterans, Brooks puts an ample amount of time and devotion towards teaching and making sure they have a place that they can go to focus on an incredible opportunity to learn and grow in music. Music is a wonderful way to help vets improve their quality of life, social interaction, self-confidence and sense of brotherhood.
The Middle C Vets hope to see their program expand and are reaching out to veterans of all ages. Brooks added that women are welcome, and the group is not to be mistaken for a “guys only club.” Participants say the warm atmosphere of the group gives them enjoyment and fulfillment by joining others who share the same desire for music. The mission of Middle C Vets is to provide all veterans a pathway to socialize and network with others through guitars and music.
The Middle C Vets are currently accepting applications for the next class to be held January 3 through February 21, 2020. Applications are available for download at middlecvets.org. The deadline for applications is December 27. For further information, please call 304-460-9752.