PTSD-afflicted veterans find outlet through guitar therapy – News – Panama City News Herald

“It makes me feel good. I can feel the music again. … I probably learned more here in 10 weeks than all the years I was exposed to it, prior to that PTSD coming out,” Vietnam veteran Clayton Wentworth said.

LYNN HAVEN — Vietnam veteran Clayton Wentworth didn’t play guitar for more than 20 years because of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), but after getting involved with a local music therapy group, he’s rediscovered his love of music.

Wentworth is one of about 14 veterans with PTSD who attends weekly therapy sessions at the Bay County Vet Center, 3109 Minnesota Ave., where veterans have learned to strum chords and play songs. While Wentworth started playing guitar during the Vietnam War, his PTSD gradually got to the point where he couldn’t even pick up the $600 guitar he bought in 2006.

But after attending the sessions, he’s strumming once more.

“PTSD killed my enthusiasm for it,” Wentworth said. “It makes me feel good. I can feel the music again. … I probably learned more here in 10 weeks than all the years I was exposed to it, prior to that PTSD coming out.”

The music program is new and started at the beginning of the year, said Vet Center Director Timothy Staebell. The sessions give the veterans something physical to do, makes them mentally focus and allows them to socialize with one another, Staebell said.

“They have something in common beyond the trauma,” Staebell said. “The group usually lasts anywhere from an hour to an hour and a half. We’ve had two groups going and we also have set up a music room back here. … They can come in anytime during the week they want and check out a guitar and sit down and practice.”

The program was modeled after similar programs used by the VA and across the country. The Vet Center will host a graduation Aug. 21 for veterans who have completed 10 lessons, during which they will get a free guitar. Many of the veterans…

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