Yamaha Corporation of America and Guitars for Vets Presents “21 Guitar Salute”

Elizabeth Dale

Guitars for Vets (G4V) and the Yamaha Corporation of America joined forces on June 27 in honor of National Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Day. The day is annually observed to recognize “the effects PTSD has on the lives of those affected by it, including roughly 800,000 veterans.”

  • Ben Kraft, Tom Sumner, and Dave Jewell
  • 21 Guitar Salute
  • 21 Guitar Salute

In celebration of G4V opening its 100th chapter, as well as to bring awareness to those battling with the effects of PTSD, G4V and Yamaha hosted a day of live performances aptly named the “21 Guitar Salute” featuring a large portion of students and graduates of G4V program. The concerts took place in Milwaukee, Wisconsin’s historic Pabst Brewery. Twenty-one local bands performed and were joined onstage by G4V co-founder, Patrick Nettesheim and Yamaha Corporation of America President, Tom Sumner.

On particular highlight was special guest, 93-year-old, World War II veteran, David McMahon. McMahon, who suffers from advanced dementia is a former semi-professional guitarist, who, according to his caretakers, had all but forgotten he could play. After a visit from Nettesheim and the donation of a Yamaha acoustic guitar, McMahon found that his lost guitar playing skills had returned to him. McMahon has been playing ever since and as part of the 21 Guitar Salute, graced the stage to play a song alongside his G4V instructor, Steve Vogt, as McMahon’s caretakers and family watched from the audience.

Established in 2007, G4V has provided over 30,000 lessons and distributed over 3,000 guitars to veterans. The organization was formed when Nettesheim was introduced to Vietnam-era veteran, Dan Van Buskirk and focuses on a “mission to share the healing power of music by providing free guitar instruction, a new acoustic guitar and a guitar accessory kit in a structured program run by volunteers, primarily through the Department of Veterans Affairs facilities and community-based medical centers.”  

Graduates of the G4V program have described their ability to play music as a means of therapy as “a way to ease their pain, give them focus, build their self-esteem and strengthen their sense of purpose.” When asked about the growth of G4V since 2007 Nettesheim stated, “We’ve come a long way since our early days as two guys with guitars visiting our brother and sister veterans in a VA hospital here in Milwaukee we’re joining with hundreds of volunteers to bring relief through music to veterans nationwide every day. Our partnership with Yamaha has helped us grow by leaps and bounds, giving us the resources to expand to over 100 G4V chapters nationally.”

For more information about G4V visit http://www.guitars4vets.org/ and if you are a veteran in crisis or concerned about one you can confidentially connect with a caring, qualified responder with the Department of  Veteran Affairs by calling 1-800-273-8255, texting 838255 or chatting online at https://www.veteranscrisisline.net/get-help/chat.