December 29, 2012
Program Offers Veterans Therapy Through Song
redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports — Your Universe Online
Two musicians are harnessing their professional skills, as well as their experience working with both domestic violence victims and children living at shelters, as part of a program designed to help military veterans make the transition back into civilian life by recording a song based on their individual experiences.The program, which was founded by the husband and wife team of Brian Dallow and Rena Fruchter, is known as Voices of Valor, and according to a recent Associated Press report, is open to any veteran, regardless of their age or background. Furthermore, previous musical experience is not a prerequisite.
Voices of Valor has several veterans team up in order to craft song lyrics that reflect each of their personalities and wartime experiences, reporter Samantha Henry explained in a Friday profile of the program. During an eight-week session, they are assisted by musicians and a psychologist throughout the process, which includes performing the song together, recording it, and then hosting a CD release party once their tune is completed.
"Based on their experiences working with children at shelters as well as for victims of domestic violence, Fruchter and Dallow realized young people too traumatized to talk about what they had been through were nevertheless willing to bang on an instrument or sing--often leading to communication breakthroughs," Henry said. "They felt the same might be true for veterans, or other populations traditionally averse to more overt forms of 'talk therapy.'"
"We've had situations in which veterans have been carrying their burdens deep inside for such a long time, and they come into this group and they begin to talk about things that they've never talked about before," Fruchter added. "They really open up, and it translates into some music that is really amazing and incredible and powerful."
The pilot program is currently underway at Montclair State University in New Jersey and it was formed as a part of Music for All Seasons - an organization founded by Dallow and Fruchter that aims to use song to help promote healing and human interaction amongst a variety of different groups of people, including halfway houses, nursing homes, and children's hospitals.
"Since 1991, Music For All Seasons has presented more than 3,000 live concerts in nursing homes, homeless shelters, hospitals, rehabilitation centers and prisons in New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania and California," Peggy McGlone of The Star-Ledger said during a 2011 profile of Voices of Valor. She added that the program "aims to reduce stress, control depression and provide group support in a safe and non-judgmental environment."