Program uses music at Durham VA to help healing

Durham County News

DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) – Some days, you can hear Leavie Davis strumming six strings at the Durham VA. 

“If music be the food of love, play on,” Davis said.

Davis spent three years in the U.S. Marine Corps. But in 2019, his mission was picking up a guitar for the first time. 

“It’s very soothing,” Davis said. “When you have a lot of issues, as some guys do, I believe that music is one of the ways you can deal with all of that.”

Davis learned from Dave Crout, the Durham chapter coordinator and instructor with Guitars for Vets. 

“I use it as a relaxation tool myself,” Crout told CBS 17. 

Guitars for Vets is a nationwide non-profit aimed at teaching veterans music to help with everyday life. 

“I think, maybe, this program helps them to get out a little bit, get back into the community and get into the routine of everyday life,” Crout said. 

In its first year in Durham, Davis and 19 others from all different backgrounds came together at the Durham VA with a passion to play. 

“There was a person in class that, very clearly, was bothered by something,” Davis said. “But, when this person began to play, it was a different person that emerged.” 

Durham VA music therapist Erica Dickens believes the program can help veterans coping with challenges. 

“We have veterans who have PTSD. We have veterans who have depression [and] veterans who have physical or other mental health disorders that are very challenging,” Dickens said. “This group give them an opportunity to interact positively with other people.”

Davis hopes to see others pick up and play, saying there’s always help, even through harmony. 

“I’m sure there are folks who are walking in mud, and trying to shake that off,” Davis said. “My message would be don’t try to do it by yourself.”

Crout said at the end of the class, veterans receive their own guitar and other materials, to help them continue playing. 

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