One of Heroes’ Voices most exciting new projects is a pilot research program that we will sponsor in cooperation with the Palo Alto Veterans Institute for Research (PAVIR). This insightful new study will be on the Veteran’s Administration campus in Menlo Park, CA. Psychologist and researcher Dr. Ben Graham will lead the research, observing three groups of participating Guitar Corps veterans.
Ben Graham first came to work with Heroes’ Voices as a volunteer guitar teacher for our Guitar Corps sessions at the VA. He heard about the guitar lessons that we were providing, and since he worked at that VA facility, he contacted me and said that he would be delighted to join the ranks of our teachers.
During our first conversation he said, “You know, we could use these sessions to do some research and gather data on the effects of these music sessions on the veterans.” I was thrilled. We are well aware of the need for serious research on music and its specific effects on veterans with PTSD, and we take every opportunity to lobby toward that end. I had hoped that Heroes’ Voices would be in a position to sponsor its own research project within the next two years. Then a couple of months ago Dr. Graham indicated that we could do a research program beginning as early as this summer! This marvelous PAVIR project sort of fell into our laps.
There will be three groups of veterans taking guitar lessons ever week and also participating in studio practice sessions with their fellow participants. Dr. Graham will observe their psychological and social responses to this consistent musical activity, and the informative data will reveal more about the immediate and long-term effects on the veterans’ health and wellbeing.
This pilot study will also aid in future, longer-term, research project design. Our hope is that this is just the beginning. We will be able to use and share the valuable insights that we gain from this project. Hopefully, we will soon be participants in more important research into helping veterans with PTSD through the healing power of music.