Calming Through Chords

Brandon White was 17, in his senior year of high school, and didn’t have a clue what he wanted to do with the rest of his life. He had thoroughly enjoyed ROTC from the minute he joined an in talking to his commanding officer thought that joining the military would be a great career to head into after graduating. Brandon was in great shape, had a sharp mind and excelled through boot camp and basic training and was honestly excited when he received his orders for his first deployment.

The 19 year old Brandon who left for combat and the 20 year old Brandon who returned from combat 14 months later were two almost entirely different people. His wife, Amy who had married him when they were both 18 before his deployment, was living in daily fear of the man she loved. Brandon’s PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) was out of control and causing violet outburst, even to the point of him pulling a gun on Amy.

Therapy wasn’t helping and the drugs provided by the DA hospital were making everything worse. During a moment of clarity Brandon asked Amy to move back in with her parents until he could get himself sorted out because he was worried about her safety.

During his time at home alone, Brandon’s depression deepened and he began seriously contemplating suicide as a way out. The only reason that the suicidal thoughts didn’t win out was because he was determined not to break Amy’s heart anymore. His young bride was sticking with him and continuing to love him even if it was from a distance at the moment. One afternoon, after and encouraging phone call from Amy, he decided he wanted to focus his energy on doing something nice for her.

Because of their quick engagement and marriage right before he left for deployment most of his belongings had moved from his parents house into their tiny apartment in an extremely unorganized fashion and had simply been thrown into closets. This clutter had driven Amy nuts all along and she had asked him to please be thinking about cleaning it out when he got home and she didn’t want to do it herself and accidentally get rid of something he valued.

Preforming this simple chore out of love for his wife would prove to be the greatest decision of Brandon’s life. It was while going through the finial closet that he came across a guitar his grandfather had left him after he died when Brandon was 11 as well as his amp and electric guitar that he had bought a few years later. He had played in a garage band through middle school and the first two years of high school but hadn’t touched it since joining ROTC at age 16.

He pulled out the simple acoustic and quickly discovered that he had not lost his ear as he got it cleaned up and back in tune quickly. As he dug through the closet he could feel a wave of excitement like he hadn’t felt in years. He ran his fingers across the strings and played through a rusty rendition of Tom Petty’s “Free Fallin”. Before long he was digging out the amplifier, stringing the non-musical contents of the closet all across the floor. It was 3am before he finally fell asleep listening to a new song he wanted to learn.

After a short 4 hours of sleep he called Amy and begged her to come home at least for the day, and that he had a surprise for her. Not only was she thrilled to find the closets cleaned out but she found smiling, calm and emotionally stable husband. She spent the rest of the day listening to him play and occasionally joining in herself.

Music is known to be able to practically cure emotional issues and that was certainly the case in Brandon’s situation. Brandon now owns a music store and teaches guitar and piano lessons. He gives free lessons to kids who have parents in the military and has even started teaching some of the adults currently in the service as well. He and Amy play together on occasion at their local coffee house as the band “Calming Through Chords”.

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