Published April 4, 2019 by Ben Kraft
During International Guitar Month, we celebrate the guitar. And why not? This versatile instrument has been the joy of players and listeners for generations. Whether it's the relaxing tone of a nylon-string classical guitar or an edgy electric solo that has its roots in blues or rock 'n' roll, the guitar is one of those instruments that means different things and sounds different to all of us.
The guitar is also a catalyst to changing how we feel; there's nothing like the pleasure of hearing the sound of an acoustic guitar that you have strummed or picked, making sounds for you and others to enjoy. Think of it – that is why we make music! You can express an emotion and find relaxation while simultaneously feeling the satisfaction of making that sound with your own fingers.
This brings me to a program that is near and dear to my heart. For several years now, Kraft Music has been involved with a nationally-known organization called Guitars for Vets. G4V, as it is nicknamed, is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that has found a way to put the "healing power of music in the hands of heroes." Through an organized instruction program carried out by amazing volunteers, G4V teaches veterans who are struggling with physical injuries or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) how to play guitar. It's brilliant – if the activity of playing guitar soothes the soul of the musician, why wouldn't it be a powerful tool to offset some of the emotional distress that some of these veterans are experiencing?
Turns out, the program works. And what began in 2007 as a Milwaukee-based organization is now nearly 100 chapters strong across the United States. I brought Kraft Music into the fold when Patrick Nettesheim, co-founder of Guitars for Vets, found himself in a pickle. See, after a veteran successfully completes a structured weeks-long instructional program, they are awarded their very own acoustic guitar. These instruments are generally new guitars donated to the organization by manufacturers, or Guitars for Vets purchases them using funds that have been given to them. Kraft Music has donated several hundred guitars over the years, as have notable manufacturers such as Yamaha and Fender as well as many of our accessory partners (Hal Leonard, Levy's, Kyser, and TKL to name a few). This certainly became a large logistical challenge for a small organization, so it was time that we stepped in.
In 2012, Kraft Music began providing the space for warehousing the guitars and accessories along with all boxes and packing materials, the use of our web site and online ordering portal for the G4V chapter coordinators, and the labor of our order processing and warehouse staff. Since 2013, we've shipped more than 2,000 guitars to veterans on G4V's behalf. It's really a prime example of how a for-profit company can leverage existing systems and processes to efficiently integrate with the needs of a non-for-profit organization. This allows G4V to do what they do best, which is to tell the story of the G4V mission to as many people and organizations as they can in the hopes of helping as many veterans as possible, all while leaving the logistics to us. We're fortunate to have customers from around the country choosing Kraft Music as their guitar store of choice, so helping G4V ship some guitars was a natural extension of what we're already doing, day in and day out.
I haven't served. But my dad served in Vietnam, and my grandfather served in World War II. I've had the great privilege to live in this country and to have the freedom to grow a business that brings joy to our customers and our company through music and musical instruments. Giving to G4V is my way of serving the veterans who have selflessly served our country and defended the very freedom that has allowed Kraft Music to become what it is.
For more information on Kraft Music's relationship with Guitars for Vets and Yamaha, you can read an article published in the Musical Merchandise Review:
Kraft Music, Yamaha Corporation of America, and Guitars for Vets Collaborate to Help Veterans Cope with PTSD
For more information on Guitars for Vets, visit their web site:
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