War veterans living with PTSD medicated by music in Guitars for Vets program

WATCH ABOVE: They left their weapons behind on the battlefield and replaced them with something much more powerful. Soldiers returning home from war are discovering how an instrument is saving their lives. Jill Croteau introduces us to the guitar heroes.

A nationwide organization that helps Canada’s veterans with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) cope through music therapy is connecting soldiers home from war with a guitar and lessons.

Sixty-six-year-old Wayne Federation joined the army in 1968 and served for over three decades.

“Veterans exist. We have a heart. We have a hard life and we very rarely talk about it, because it hurts.”

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SPECIAL COVERAGE: Invisible Wounds – Crisis in the Military

The trauma he experienced and the horror he witnessed followed him beyond the battlefield.

“I became a workaholic and alcoholic and all sorts of ‘ics’ you can find,” Federation said. “I wanted to hide my fear of coming to the realization of what I witnessed.”

He writes poetry to help heal, but now he has a new outlet for his emotions: he’s started learning how to play a guitar.

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“It soothes the angry soul.”

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He got the donated instrument through the Guitars for Vets program, which launched in 2011.

Federation said it has already changed his life.

“It increased my self-worth and made me a better person.”

It worked so well for Federation, he’s off his prescription drugs for his PTSD.

“I can zero-in on perfection of that piece of music and not worry about the imperfections I presented in life.”

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READ MORE: Marijuana for Trauma opens in Edmonton to treat PTSD in military vets

Long and McQuade locations across the country are accepting gently used guitars. Guitars for Vets have also kickstarted a fundraising effort to generate money to purchase brand new guitars. Click here to visit the GoFundMe page.