Dennis Clayton still remembers listening to ’60s music in the back of a Cessna 0-1 Bird Dog plane.
As he scouted enemy positions during the Vietnam War, “We Gotta Get Out Of This Place” by The Animals blasted through his headphones.
“Music was a much needed release from the isolation we went through, the loneliness and occasional terror of combat,” the 72-year-old said.
Now Clayton has found an organization that hopes to bring that comfort to other veterans.
WEGave, which stands for Warrior Entertainment Group American Veteran Experience, is a nonprofit that helps veterans cope with post-traumatic stress disorder through music. The organization raised more than $1,600 during a benefit concert on Friday and packed First Magnitude Brewing Company with more than 500 attendees, said John Gordon, the founder of WEGave.
While veterans can borrow instruments from WEGave to participate in its open mic nights every Thursday, the money raised from the fundraiser will help get veterans their own instruments and music lessons, Gordon said.
Throughout his 30 years working with veterans, Gordon has found that music is a unifying force for those returning home from combat.
“Music was the only common thing they had when they were fighting these wars,” Gordon said. “It’s the only thing that can take their mind off of some of these social pressures that they have.”
Photographs of members in uniform and in the field are displayed on the walls of the Collegiate Veterans Success Center.