Heroes’ Voices has expanded our programming considerably this year. We recently connected with a VA psychologist and Social Worker named Dan Evenhouse. He is one very busy man. He has clients and projects scattered over the Bay Area, but he maintains two offices, one at the VA in San Bruno and one at the San Francisco VA.
Since connecting with Dan, Heroes’ Voices has been participating in some of Dan’s current therapeutic programming and also building new initiatives in different locations. At the Outpatient Clinic in San Bruno, they have a couple of different art therapy sessions every week. One of those sessions is a music session, where veterans talk about songs and music that is meaningful to them and to their recovery. They pull up YouTube videos of songs that veterans request and then process any reactions to the music. With Heroes’ Voices in the sessions, the veterans can actually sing songs together, sometimes in harmony. This adds considerable depth and dimension to the veterans’ experience of the sessions.
We have also donated guitars and begun individual lessons in at the San Bruno VA, and added Paul Young to the ranks of new “Guitar Corps” teachers. There has been considerable interest expressed for more guitar lessons at San Bruno and Heroes’ Voices “Guitar Corps” is on the case.
At the San Francisco VA we are engaged in two new projects. Every other Monday we help lead a chorus sing along for disabled residents at the hospital. The residents did a public “Performance” to commemorate Memorial Day. In the weeks to come, Heroes’ Voices will be making regular visits to the acute care ward at the hospital. The patients there are usually at risk for suicide, and have checked into the VA to get help. We will be singing for these veterans to bring the healing gift of music into their lives.
We’ve recently shipped more free guitars off to veterans in Oklahoma and Missouri and in July I have meetings with the VA in Tampa, FL to explore possible collaborative programming. I will also be speaking at a number of Rotary Clubs in the Pensacola area, which has a number of large military bases, and a huge population of veterans.
The Bluegrass Jams continue every month at the Livermore VA Hospital and now we lead a singing group every Thursday at the CAL-VET home in Yountville. Here is a quote from one of the CAL-VET residents about what Heroes’ Voices means to her:
“The Heroes’ Voices workshop is the highlight of my week. I breathe better. My voice is stronger. My outlook and mood are more upbeat. Once again, after several years of silence, I now sing in the shower and so does my heart. Thank you for bringing me peace, happiness and real joy!”