Veterans strum toward better health with Columbia project

2 years 3 months 6 days ago Wednesday, April 13 2016 Apr 13, 2016 Wednesday, April 13, 2016 10:34:00 AM CDT April 13, 2016 in News
By: Taylor Reid, KOMU 8 Reporter
loading

COLUMBIA — It all started with Dave and CJ Dunklee watching a commercial about Toby Keith saluting America’s wounded warriors.

“So I said to my husband, ‘Well, we can do something like that,’” CJ Dunklee said.

And so the Healing Box Project was born, with its purpose to supply disabled veterans with free guitars and lessons for protecting American liberty.

A lot has changed about the project since its start four years ago, including its location.

It began at Fort Leonard Wood Army Base, but government cuts lead to the closing of its Warrior Transition Unit, leaving many veterans searching for a new facility.

The Dunklees decided the Harry S. Truman V.A. Hospital in Columbia would be perfect for their project and allow them to expand their reach.

“Now instead of only seeing six or ten people per week we can see around 20,” CJ Dunklee said. “And we have split [the lessons] into two weekly classes an hour long.”

The basis of the project is to provide the veterans with a positive outlet to connect with friends and improve on a variety of skills.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and depression are very real, and often silent, issues that countless veterans face.

A person with PTSD is at least twice as likely to commit or attempt suicide, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. They are also twice as likely to experience substance abuse. 

Roughly 22 veterans commit suicide every day, which translates to one suicide death every 65 minutes.

Although veterans and service members only make up around 9 percent of the population, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, they account for one in four suicides throughout the country.

Many veterans have found that therapy, especially with music, has been their saving grace.

“We’ve all got something in common, and we all have a common interest,” Veteran Cregg Snyder said. “When we can sit and enjoy the music and free our minds through the music it really helps, especially with the P.T.S.D. and severe depression.”

After volunteering for tour tours in Vietnam, Army Veteran Jim Gaertner returned to the U.S. and feared his days as a musician were over.

He played lead guitar in a rock band throughout his high school career, traveling around Missouri and neighboring states, making music and timeless jams.

But once Gaertner came home after spending virtually all of his time in the jungle and bush with the infantry, he realized that a part of him he didn’t expect to, had drastically changed.

“I picked up a guitar and tried to play again and found that my hands weren’t doing what my brain told them to do,” Gaertner said. “I got really depressed and disgusted with it and got rid of all my equipment and never really picked it up until now, until this project started with the V.A.”

Gaertner said that he has increasingly enjoyed his involvement with the Healing Box Project and hopes to see more progress with his guitar skills in the future.

“I’m still trying to get my hands to do what my brains tells them, but I’m hoping that with time I can at least play well enough to entertain myself and other people,” Gaertner said.

So far the project has given away 72 professional instruments, along with comprehensive method books Dave Dunklee published in 2003. The books range from beginner to advanced stages of guitar-playing.

“No matter what stage the guitar player is when they come into the class, they can use the book at any level,” Dave Dunklee said. “Healing begins with the first strum.”

Music therapy has a variety of benefits, both physical and mental.

“There are some things that physically playing guitar can improve,” Dave Dunklee said. “Whether it’s finger manipulability or cognitive recognition or cognitive thinking, those type of skills are also enhanced in guitar performance.”

Veteran Kelly Johnson said the project is a good outlet for his ailments and overall increases his enjoyment.

“I can take the anxiety I have and use this as another tool for better health,” Johnson said.

The Healing Box Project runs solely on donations, 100 percent of which are channeled into funding for guitars that are needed with every new round of veterans accepted into the program.

“We’re doing it to thank the soldiers for the things they’ve done, to protect our freedom and our liberty,” Dave Dunklee said. “It’s just something people in the public, us for example, can do to give back.”

The next fundraiser benefit for the project will be held on June 5 at the Fish & Company bar from noon to 6 P.M. at the Lake of the Ozarks.

More News

Grid
List
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – House Minority Leader Gail McCann Beatty will resign from the Missouri House of Representatives effective Sunday... More >>
2 hours ago Friday, July 20 2018 Jul 20, 2018 Friday, July 20, 2018 12:57:00 PM CDT July 20, 2018 in Top Stories
COLE COUNTY — The Cole County Sheriff’s Department responded to possible weapons violation on Thursday night. When the officers... More >>
3 hours ago Friday, July 20 2018 Jul 20, 2018 Friday, July 20, 2018 11:47:00 AM CDT July 20, 2018 in Top Stories
(AP) - President Donald Trump has indicated that he's willing to hit every product imported from China with tariffs and... More >>
6 hours ago Friday, July 20 2018 Jul 20, 2018 Friday, July 20, 2018 8:52:00 AM CDT July 20, 2018 in News
BRANSON - A press conference was held Friday morning following Thursday's fatal boat capsizing at Table Rock Lake. As... More >>
8 hours ago Friday, July 20 2018 Jul 20, 2018 Friday, July 20, 2018 7:23:00 AM CDT July 20, 2018 in News
BRANSON (AP) — The Latest on a deadly tourist boat accident in Missouri (all times local): 10:30 a.m. ... More >>
8 hours ago Friday, July 20 2018 Jul 20, 2018 Friday, July 20, 2018 7:16:00 AM CDT July 20, 2018 in News
BRANSON - The recent boat incident that killed 11 and injured seven in Branson isn't the first time Ride the... More >>
13 hours ago Friday, July 20 2018 Jul 20, 2018 Friday, July 20, 2018 2:06:00 AM CDT July 20, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - Thursday evening around 9:00 pm, two cars collided head-on at the intersection of Worley St. and W. Boulevard.... More >>
16 hours ago Thursday, July 19 2018 Jul 19, 2018 Thursday, July 19, 2018 11:14:00 PM CDT July 19, 2018 in News
KANSAS CITY (AP) — A southern Missouri sheriff and a subordinate with whom he was having a romantic relationship have... More >>
16 hours ago Thursday, July 19 2018 Jul 19, 2018 Thursday, July 19, 2018 10:46:00 PM CDT July 19, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - The City of Columbia confirmed Friday the household hazardous waste collection is cancelled. The waste collection was... More >>
17 hours ago Thursday, July 19 2018 Jul 19, 2018 Thursday, July 19, 2018 10:16:00 PM CDT July 19, 2018 in News
(CNN) -- More illnesses have been reported across the United States in two separate cyclospora outbreaks, federal health officials said... More >>
18 hours ago Thursday, July 19 2018 Jul 19, 2018 Thursday, July 19, 2018 9:31:35 PM CDT July 19, 2018 in News
BRANSON - The Stone County Sheriff has confirmed that Missouri State Highway Patrol diving searches have ended for the night... More >>
18 hours ago Thursday, July 19 2018 Jul 19, 2018 Thursday, July 19, 2018 9:12:00 PM CDT July 19, 2018 in News
(CNN) -- Gun-rights activists have reached a settlement with the government that... More >>
18 hours ago Thursday, July 19 2018 Jul 19, 2018 Thursday, July 19, 2018 8:57:04 PM CDT July 19, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - The Loop CID met with the Planning and Zoning Committee Thursday night to discuss future plans for Business... More >>
19 hours ago Thursday, July 19 2018 Jul 19, 2018 Thursday, July 19, 2018 7:46:00 PM CDT July 19, 2018 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - Missouri House Minority Floor Leader Gail McCann Beatty will resign later this week to take a job... More >>
20 hours ago Thursday, July 19 2018 Jul 19, 2018 Thursday, July 19, 2018 6:55:00 PM CDT July 19, 2018 in News
DES MOINES, Iowa - Pella Regional Health Center spokeswoman Billie Rhamy confirmed Thursday evening injuries were minor and all patients... More >>
20 hours ago Thursday, July 19 2018 Jul 19, 2018 Thursday, July 19, 2018 6:49:00 PM CDT July 19, 2018 in Continuous News
(CNN) - President Donald Trump hopes to welcome Russian President Vladimir Putin in Washington this fall, White House press secretary... More >>
22 hours ago Thursday, July 19 2018 Jul 19, 2018 Thursday, July 19, 2018 5:09:00 PM CDT July 19, 2018 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - Planned Parenthood advocates demonstrated a mock health care waiting room in Governor Parson's office Thursday. The... More >>
23 hours ago Thursday, July 19 2018 Jul 19, 2018 Thursday, July 19, 2018 4:16:00 PM CDT July 19, 2018 in News
JEFFERSON CITY (AP) — Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley has charged a former Greenville city clerk with stealing more than... More >>
1 day ago Thursday, July 19 2018 Jul 19, 2018 Thursday, July 19, 2018 3:07:00 PM CDT July 19, 2018 in News
Columbia, MO
Broken Clouds 93°
4pm 93°
5pm 92°
6pm 91°
7pm 89°