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NEWS | July 26, 2013

Wounded warriors play their way to healing

By Staff Sgt. Wesley Farnsworth 633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

Members of the Warrior Transition Unit at Fort Eustis, Va., now have a new opportunity to aid in the healing process through the "Music for Morale" guitar program.

Woody Groton, WTU site coordinator for the military adaptive sports program, started the free program in January 2013 as a way to share his love of playing guitar with other Soldiers.

"I play guitar myself and thought it would be something good to share with others within the WTU," he said.

Groton originally started a similar program at the White River Junction Veterans Affairs hospital in White River Junction, Vermont before accepting the position at the Fort Eustis WTU. When his position began with the WTU he knew the program was something he wanted to continue.

The WTU supports the mind, body and spirit through many different programs including "Music for Morale." While "Music for Morale" isn't an adaptive sport, said Groton, it helps improve memory, remedy issues such as post-traumatic stress syndrome and promotes camaraderie between soldiers.

"Healing comes in many forms, which not only include physical but also mindful methods," Capt. Erika Wall, WTU commander, said. "By allowing our Soldiers to learn and play the guitar as part of their healing process, we offer them an alternative relaxation method which allows them to express themselves in an alternate and positive way."

U.S. Army Sgt. Scott Black is one of the more than 30 Soldiers who have participated in "Music for Morale" since its beginning.

"I needed something I could focus on besides my healing and could use as a getaway from some of the stressors that [wounded Soldiers] come across during the healing process," said U.S. Army Sgt. Scott Black, a WTU healing warrior. "I used to play guitar as a teenager and this took me back to my roots."

Although Black has played before, "Music for Morale" is available for Soldiers with any skill level on the guitar.

"We welcome Soldiers of all skill levels," Groton said. "It doesn't matter if you are just starting out or if you're an experienced player that just wants to get back into playing."
Through donations, guitars are provided to Soldiers wishing to participate in the program.

"Getting into this program and having everything provided to me is like Christmas morning," Black said. "I was floored when I found out they had a guitar that I could not only use, but keep."

Black has been in the program for three months, and is impressed by the benefits he's received from it.

"This program has exceeded what I was expecting going into it," Black said. "It's forced me out of my comfort zone in some ways and introduced me to many Soldiers I may not have met otherwise."

"Music for Morale" shows soldiers they are not alone. According to Groton, the program also serves as a social outlet, where Soldiers can talk to someone who understands what they are going through, all while playing guitar.

No matter a Soldier's skill level, "Music for Morale" is a program that can benefit all WTU Soldiers.

The program is held Thursdays at 3 p.m.

For more information contact Woody Groton at 757-314-7500 extension 45056.