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Music Heals Homeless Vets


Aired 11/12/10

Hundreds of San Diego veterans have teamed up with the SDSU music department for healing concerts. The partnership uses music therapy to help homeless vets.

Hundreds of San Diego veterans have teamed up with San Diego State University's music department for healing concerts. The partnership uses music therapy to help homeless vets.

A rousing applause by more than 160 vets at Veterans Village on Pacific Coast Highway welcomed the SDSU Latin Jazz student band.

Marian Liebowitz, a professor of music at SDSU, said her students benefit from the concerts as much as the veterans do.

“Our students are quite honored that they have the opportunity to use their talent to help with what they see as a social problem. We see it as our small way of being able to contribute, to thank them for their service and offer something we have in return.”

Liebowitz received a $15,000 grant from the Disabled American Veterans. She’ll use the money for 12 student concerts and offer 37 music classes at Veterans Village in the coming year.

The program is considered music therapy for vets who have PTSD and traumatic brain injury says Marian.

"There has been research that shows music is able to regenerate parts of the brain that has been destroyed."

Veteran Daniel Lamb served 21 years in the Marines. He now sits in the front row during the first concert. "There’s something to music therapy that heals unseen wounds," he said. He explains how Veterans Village provides MP3 players, preloaded with soothing music for its vets.

"Music moves the soul—and we’ve seen it happen here," said Phil Landis, president of Veteran’s Village.

Fifteen veterans who participated in a trial run of the SDSU joint music program last year, took voice lessons, and music theory classes were popular among vets of all ages. Landis says it works. "For some people, you don’t know what the latch is going to be. What it is that’s really going to get someone to change their life."

The concert itself is enough inspiration for some veterans, says Daniel.

"Most of the vets here really enjoy it. I think the biggest part about it.. is that we’re not forgotten."

SDSU student musician Dan Reagan, on Trombone, hasn’t forgotten, neither has Kris Kursgaden on keyboard, or Mack Leighton on bass, and to drum the memory in is Isaac Crowe.

Their Latin beat moves Daniel to his feet. He laughs as he says out loud, what he's about to do.

"If it gets real jazzy I might get up and dance a little."

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