MISSOULA - Statistics show that roughly 10% of Montanans are veterans and for some, dealing with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a pressing issue.
The Treasure State lost 53 veterans to suicide in 2016, but a project in Missoula is working to reduce that number. The Hero Sound Project features a group of veterans who meet weekly to help mend the mind through music.
The music being played in the basement of the Zootown Arts Community Center (ZACC) is helping to heal the psychological wounds of war. The Hero Sound Project is the brainchild of Iraq war veteran Clinton Decker who had an idea to help those struggling with the trauma of war.
“When I'm playing guitar nothing else really matters and it just kind of hit me one day this is really powerful stuff it's really helping me," Decker said.
“This is proven to be invaluable. it's been great stress relief, it's great for camaraderie. We just come here and have fun," said veteran Daniel Coleman. "There's no expectations anybody can come and play it doesn't matter if you plan instrument and we'll teach you.”
" Guys might walk in the door and, you know, might not be having a great day or whatever. But usually by halfway through everybody's loosened up and enjoying themselves and shrugged off whatever it is they brought in," Decker explained.
When the project was started two years ago, it was held in the back of the VFW bar in Missoula. "We're the back of the bar. I want this to be a legitimate therapeutic program. [So] we gotta get out of a bar," Decker recalled.
The basement of the ZACC seems to be a perfect fit for the project with Decker stressing the importance of his drug and alcohol-free environment. Another way they are legitimizing the project is by raising money to file their 501c papers which would allow them to become a nonprofit organization.
Decker told MTN News that he hopes that over the long winter months they can work on their skills and then book a couple of gigs and let veterans know that they’re not alone.
The Hero Sound Project meets every Thursday in the ZACC basement. They extend an open invitation to all veterans who want to take their mind off the daily grind. Click here for more information on the program.