ARLINGTON, Va. — Fort Bliss Soldier Recovery Unit guitar instructor Jim Leeah has only one question for recovering Soldiers considering guitar lessons.
“How do you know that there is not a great musician in you?” He adds, “Investing time and effort now can enrich the rest of your life.”
The Fort Bliss SRU adaptive reconditioning program has offered guitar lessons since 2015. Soldiers learn agility and fine motor skills — and the classes are an opportunity to get their minds off life’s obstacles by providing a creative outlet.
Alan Cooksey, adaptive reconditioning support specialist at the SRU, said the guitar class isn’t always easy, in part because Leeah challenges participants. He teaches them about how to play power chords and how to transition from one to another, which Cooksey noted is rather hard to do.
“Playing guitar challenges you,” said Sgt. Maj. Gerald Cureton, a Soldier who attended the guitar lessons. “It is difficult, but it gives you a sense of self-satisfaction and accomplishment when you learn something new.”
“You are satisfied by the progress you have made and cannot believe you can actually play guitar,” Leeah said. “Soldiers spend time during their recovery period building something with a lifetime benefit.”
For Cooksey, one of the guitar class benefits is that Soldiers learn a new skill, enabling them to create art – in this case, music. Soldiers gain a sense of self-satisfaction and motivation to improve as they progress from one stage of guitar playing to the next.
Leeah noted multiple positive impacts, such as the fact that the guitar program helps Soldiers recover by plunging them into learning and performing an arduous skill while providing an opportunity to play songs they enjoy. It takes them away from everything else for a while, he explained.
“The benefits of developing new skills and gaining a whole new body of knowledge cannot be outweighed by the enrichment from having music in your life,” he said.
The Army Warrior Care and Transition Program is now the Army Recovery Care Program. Although the name has changed, the mission remains the same: to provide quality complex case management to the Army's wounded, ill and injured Soldiers.