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The veteran picked up his guitar from its stand, standing in a weighted cloud of silence; a silence that had been sitting heavily on his chest for as long as he could remember. The muted sound of his knuckles cracking was the first to pierce the air, as if the weight knew what was to come next. He fretted a chord and dragged down on the strings, the sound now lighting up the room around him. For a moment in time, he stood in complete freedom. As he continued to strum, all of the trauma he had previously endured leached out of himself and into the body of the guitar, escaping into the air around him. A full band came in behind him, each member joining in and sending their pain through amplifiers and drumkits. For a moment, all of these veterans were free.

We are Creative Drill Sergeants and we understand the power of music and all of its healing properties. That is why we are proud to say that when a veteran comes to our Expressive Arts Academy in need of healing, we can introduce them to our Vets Jam Band Music Performance Program. 

We are a collaboration of veterans setting out to heal old wounds through the art of music, all while gaining experiences as semi professional musicians. Through Operation Enjoyable Employment our mission is to assist veteran musicians to become performers with future opportunities to earn additional income on their own.

All of us love both listening to and playing music, and this program gives us all the resources we need to turn our passions into reality. Through the Vets Jam Band, we have the opportunity to practice performance skills with like minded individuals, play music to crowds of people, and soon record each artist’s original songs. 

As a program, our number one goal is to help veterans find emotional support by letting their trauma out through music in a safe space, surrounded by peers who are all going through the same fight. We hope to provide an environment that can foster support and mentoring to people who need it the most. We hope that through this program we can also inspire hope and prevent issues that could lead to homelessness, instability, or even suicide. Even if you’re not familiar with playing musical instruments, we offer classes and mentorship opportunities to help make you part of the family.

Together, we have created a strong group of performing veterans who have had the chance to live out their dreams of being musicians. In the past we have played at numerous venues including The Hard Rock Cafe, Last Exit Live, The Rogue Bar, The Arizona Latino Arts and Culture Center, The Arizona Veterans Coliseum: Phoenix StandDown 2019 & 2020, Fiddler’s Dream, the Scottsdale Center for Performing Arts, and many more. 

We play both original songs written by us and cover songs. As far as the covers go, we play a little bit of every genre. Classic rock, pop, country, western, and more. 

We have achieved a lot together, all of which would not be possible without each other. We have successfully played both shows and festivals as a group, we have written original songs that we plan on recording in the near future, and we were featured in a documentary, Out of Formation. But more important than all of that, we were able to help everyone in the program and let them all experience the benefits of healing through expressive arts.

The Vets Jam Band experience doesn’t just end here, there is more to come from us in the very near future. We plan on playing many more shows in the future and growing our performance groups to give more veteran musicians the opportunity to perform. We even plan on releasing our own musician’s original songs.

To learn more about us and what we have coming in the future, check out our webpage at https://creativedrillsergeants.org/vets-jam-band/

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