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Music helps in healing process, some veterans say

By Mary Richards | Posted - Feb 5th, 2013 @ 9:25am



SALT LAKE CITY — Whether it's listening to music, writing music or performing, more programs around the country are finding this area of the arts helps veterans.

Paul Boruff is a naval air veteran and a musician. He's been playing and writing music since before his days in the Navy, and now he helps others at the Department of Veterans Affairs with their music. He helps with the Utah VA's annual performing arts portion of the Creative Arts Festival and recently set up the audio for the event.

As a veteran who has benefited from integrating music into his own life, Boruff said he's seen the benefits in others who have done the same.

"The arts connect the right brain and the left brain, and the energy gets focused into whatever healing process they are in at the moment," he said.

Boruff has seen music help many other veterans "to heal from whatever it is they need to heal from."

The Salt Lake Veterans Affairs health care system includes music opportunities in its services. As part of the program, a man who had suffered a stroke was able to write a song for his wife a few years ago, and a Vietnam veteran with PTSD improved by leaps and bounds after a guitar class.


"The arts connect the right brain and the left brain, and the energy gets focused into whatever healing process they are in at the moment."

Therapist Emily Potter said patients have even performed at the Creative Arts Festival.

"That feeling of success and accomplishment, it does wonders," she said.

While music can be cathartic and therapeutic, it's often the connections made in the brain through music that help veterans with the healing process.

"If you're already in the position of wanting to stand up there and play, that means something to you," said Boruff. "And if you can have a good experience that gets turned into a connection between right brain and left brain you feel good about yourself the dots are connected."

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