Thea Digiammerino

Baltic Teen Refurbishing Guitars to Help Veterans, Active Duty Service Members Express Themselves

A Baltic teen is looking to supply veterans and active duty military with guitars to help those suffering from PTSD and dealing with challenges they’ve encountered after serving in the United States Armed Forces.

“If you’re feeling anxious or you just don’t know what to say — say you’re mad — you (play music) because that’s just an easier way to say it. ‘Cause talking is hard,” said 17-year-old Marcus Gada who is spearheading “SOUND OFF: Music for Heroes.”

For the last four months Gada, a student and lacrosse player at Norwich Free Academy, and his father have been dismantling old, donated guitars from the community and from Craigslist, then restoring them. A couple even needed new frets.

They’ll be used at Progressions Music Therapy Sessions in Old Mystic for “SOUND OFF,” a free, weekly program to teach guitar to those who’ve served or are serving in the Armed Forces.

“Music is a different way to speak,” Gada, who attends Progressions, said. It’s a chance to give these military men and women their own language through music, he added.

Courtney Biddle, Gada’s music therapist, will co-lead the class. She’s seen the impact of music on veterans and active military first-hand.

“Music can give people a purpose, a reason for improving themselves, a reason for being,” Biddle said.

“They gave so much of themselves and we don’t even know them—they don’t know us, yet they’re fighting for us,” Gada said.

It’s a cause close to the teen’s heart. His mom, Shelly, was in the Marine Corps from 1986 to 1990.

“I have friends that are ill. And PTSD is a big thing. I was lucky enough to never have anything that caused any of that for me,” Shelly Gada said, adding that she’s extremely proud of her son.

“Da dum, da dum, da dum. You have a natural beat,” Marcus Gada said, adding the song “’Wrong Side of Heaven” by Five Finger Death Punch helped inspire the project. “No matter where you are, where you come from: music is everybody’s way.”

For more information on classes or to donate a guitar, here is the link to the “SOUND OFF” program website here.

Contact Us