The Healing Box Project, founded by retired music teacher Dave Dunklee and his wife, CJ, uses music and guitar playing to help Veterans overcome PTSD. Dave and CJ truly feel that strumming can help Vets heal.
Dave and CJ have a son in the Army Reserves and are dedicated to giving back. They were recently recognized for their service to Veterans by Representative Vicky Hartzler of Missouri on the floor of the House of Representatives.
What is the Healing Box Project?
It is a way to give thanks to Veterans who have protected freedom and liberty. At The Healing Box Project, our motto is “The guitar is the box and healing begins with the first strum.” Our funding comes from donations, music performances and organized fund-raising efforts. I give lessons while CJ takes care of scheduling events to promote the project.
What is The Healing Box Project’s goal?
The goal vis to provide music to erase the symptoms of PTSD and the trauma of combat through guitar performance.
How does guitar playing help deal with the issues of PTSD?
Our acoustic guitar sessions bring together men and women who have things in common. They make music together and share stories and create friendships, which many times leads to activities together outside of the weekly guitar sessions. For some, it’s the first time socializing, finding relief from the “blue funk” holding them hostage as a recluse.
We have unleashed many “fixes” for those with issues of memory loss, including muscle memory, cognitive recognition and manipulative coordination. Without getting too scientific, it’s the healing power of music...and it works.
The results come through moments when the person strumming the guitar hears and feels the sound. Concentrating on nothing else, the guitarist is taken into the world of “making music” and away from everything else. Facial expressions change, feelings of accomplishment and joy erase all things negative and suddenly the player is holding a “new friend.” As we say, “It’s not magic, it’s not a miracle, it’s music.”
What have been the results?
One of our most heartwarming stories is of a Veteran who called one morning to say “you saved my life.” The Veteran explained in moments of deep depression the night before, thoughts of “ending it all” disappeared when, across the room was the guitar given to him by The Healing Box Project, and he remembered that someone cares. He picked up the guitar and strummed until the “bad feelings” were replaced with the calming sound of his “friend,” the acoustic guitar.
Soon after, he became the founder of “22 No More,” a program that helps others with PTSD and issues related to combat and transition to civilian life. We are proud to think this may be because of this combat Veteran being introduced to The Healing Box Project.
What is your message to Veterans who need support?
If you are a Veteran who wants to teach yourself to play the guitar, try “The Boogieman Guitar Method” book. It holds all the information you need to get started and is the book we give to each guitarist in our project sessions.
To those who are looking for relief from negative thoughts or just want to pick up a new hobby, we suggest finding a good guitar and a teacher and give it a try!
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