Building Resilience Through Music

Participants, songwriters, and staff for our inaugural Nashville Music Therapy Retreat. 

Participants, songwriters, and staff for our inaugural Nashville Music Therapy Retreat. 

With your generous support, veterans in the Nashville area recently completed a three-day music therapy retreat. Each participant received a free guitar courtesy of Two Old Hippies Lifestyle Store in Nashville, a delicious BBQ dinner courtesy of Jim-N-Nicks of Nashville, and of course three days on the farm courtesy of Vince Gill and Amy Grant. Your support positively transformed the lives of everyone involved, including the songwriters and staff. We are counting on your continued support to build on this success by organizing three or more additional retreats by December. 

Participants with their new Breedlove guitars courtesy of Two Old Hippies.

Participants with their new Breedlove guitars courtesy of Two Old Hippies.

We have big plans for these retreats. From the very beginning, we set out to do something unique: rather than develop another program, we want to build an evidence-based therapeutic model that other organizations and communities can apply in their local areas. Leading this project is Mack Bailey, a certified music therapist with over 10 years of work experience with the veteran community and more than 20 years experience as a commercial musician. Mack has helped us assemble an amazing team of songwriters, interns, and support staff, as well as community partners, including Bedell Guitars, Belmont College, The Nashville VA Hospital, Vince Gill and Amy Grant, Jim-N-Nicks, and others. In addition, Mack supervised the design of our research instruments and survey analysis. As you will see, his expert guidance and support grounded our efforts on a firm foundation and ensured your contributions were put to good use.

Honorary founder of Challenge America, Amy Grant, welcoming everyone to the farm. 

Honorary founder of Challenge America, Amy Grant, welcoming everyone to the farm. 

Here are just a few excerpts of the feedback we received following the Nashville retreat:

"Participating in the retreat was like taking a really awesome medication that took my anxiety, worry, stress, fear, etc from 8-9's down to 5-6's."

"It's like I'm trying to hear the music more now. Not just the lyrics, you know like trying to pick out the tempo of the drums, the sounds of the guitar, even trying to air strum to the beat."

"To me, music therapy is an alternate approach to therapy that doesn't involve fighting the stigmas the military engrained into me about mental health and resilience. It was about trying something new, that gave me something to lose and pour my soul into, that didn't feel selfish or like a pity party, but instead a constructive and creative outlet."

"To be able to talk with someone about what was going on in my head without feeling I was being judged. "

"Every morning I grab my guitar and do the breathing exercises, followed by practicing my guitar for an hour before I start my day, and that hour of practice is also how I end my day. I am continuing guitar lessons and also songwriting lessons. Thank you so much"

Challenge America founder and CEO, Houston Cowan, kicking off the opening night festivities, courtesy of Jim-N-Nicks BBQ.

Challenge America founder and CEO, Houston Cowan, kicking off the opening night festivities, courtesy of Jim-N-Nicks BBQ.

Your support made these outcomes possible. Now it's time to roll up our sleeves and build on this success. Your continued support will allow Challenge America to organize additional retreats over the coming months, allowing us to refine our model before we scale up to the national level. Please make a donation today to help us reach the men and women who sacrificed so much on our behalf and continue to bear the scars of their service.