‘Everyone has a story to tell’: Guitar, songwriting class helps recovering veterans

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Steven Young has been teaching weekly guitar and songwriting classes at the Providence VA Medical Center since 2018.

Young served in the U.S. Army for three years and now volunteers his time to help other veterans recovering from the psychological effects of war.

“Mostly it’s actually a program that’s designed to help them with any struggles,” he said. “We all have struggles in life. I wanted to give them a program that would be creative.”

Young has been playing guitar for 55 years, and said he hopes his program, called “Veterans Opus,” will be something his students can continue once they leave the VA.

“They can go home and write songs, they can go home and play guitar, they can call me on the phone and we can go over it on the phone. So, I wanted to give them something that could go on and hopefully add to their lives,” he said.

Max Rockatansky was in the U.S. Army for 12-and-a-half years, when a parachuting accident ended his career.

“Steve told us what he tells all the new students: ‘everyone has a story to tell,'” Rockatansky said. “Irrespective of what story you have to tell, you want to do it well and Steve can really help you tell your story well and offer different strategies to go about it both melodically and structurally and technically.”

Colin Jarvis served four-and-a-half years in the U.S. Army and also takes part in the free two-hour class.

“It’s therapeutic. It’s fun. It’s like music cleanses your soul,” Jarvis said. “We shared a common experience and we all sacrificed that time that we spent in the service.”

Young said the group of veterans are more than just his students.

“There’s no reason why I can’t give back,” he said. “I like being here. I like being a veteran. I like being with everyone here. They’re my friends. More than being just in my class, they’re my friends. These are my people.”

To purchase a CD of the songs created by these veterans, visit the Veterans Opus Facebook page. All of the proceeds go to the VA.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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