Guitars 4 Vets is a 501(c)3 non-profit dedicated to providing relief to struggling veterans through the healing power of music and community
Over the past twelve years, our organization has refined a guitar instruction program aimed at providing Veterans struggling with physical injuries, PTSD, and other emotional distress a unique therapeutic alternative. G4V pursues its mission to share the healing power of music by providing free guitar instruction, a new acoustic guitar and a guitar accessory kit in a structured program run by volunteers, primarily through the Department of Veterans Affairs facilities and community-based medical centers.
In 2007, Patrick Nettesheim, a Milwaukee guitar instructor was introduced to Vietnam-era Marine, Dan Van Buskirk. For years Dan wanted to learn to play guitar but felt the lasting effects of combat, in the form of post-traumatic-stress-disorder (PTSD), would make it difficult for him to succeed. After only a few months of working with Patrick, Dan discovered that the strong spirit that helped him throughout his time in Vietnam was all he needed to play music. Together, the men realized that guitar lessons were both opportunities for self-expression and positive human interaction. Dan and Patrick shared what they learned with Veterans at The Clement J. Zablocki VA Medical Center and Guitars for Vets was born.
Guitars for Vets is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization and most of our funding comes from a mix of individual donors and sponsors.
We have a small board, but most of our efforts happen at the local chapter level. On average, 66% of funding has gone directly back into our program with 34% going towards other expenses throughout the years of 2015 – 2017. To learn more about our finances, view our 990s.
Donations to Guitars 4 Vets are tax-deductible.
President, Chairman of the Board of Directors
Pete is a retired Veteran having served 24 years of service in the Army and Air Force combined. During his Army career, Pete worked in support of the 82nd airborne division at Ft. Bragg, NC. There he directly supported communication/signal operations in Granada, Honduras, Panama, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Germany as a Power Generation Technician from 1983 to 1987. After 4 years of active duty in the Army, Pete joined the USAF Reserves Civil Engineering Squadron (440th Tactical Air Lift Wing) in Milwaukee, WI. As Senior Master Sergeant and Superintendent of the Power Production section in Baghdad, Iraq, Pete was responsible for leading his team in the restoration and establishment of three prime power plants at the Baghdad International Airport in 2003. Pete’s civilian career included working as a high performance project leader in research and development for over 20 years testing engines, generators, associated systems and components within a test lab environment and out in the field.
Bud is a partner at the law firm of Ogletree Deakins. Since his graduation from Northwestern University School of Law in 1987, Bud has been in private practice specializing in litigation work with a focus in the last 20-plus years on labor and employment-law related counseling of clients and litigation. In addition to his law practice, Bud is a member of his church’s executive leadership counsel and is a dedicated father of three.
Beverly is a senior lecturer in the Music Department, Peck School of the Arts at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She is the author of Don’t Fret the Frets, A Beginning Guitar Method for 1 to 100 and Beyond Fretting the Frets, An Intermediate Guitar Method in two volumes. Dr. Belfer has taught more than 18,000 students how to play the guitar at UW-M, and has taught Guitar for the following UW-M Departments: Center for General Music, Division of Urban Outreach and Continuing Education, Milwaukee Folk Center, Metropolitan Arts Program, for Parkside University, Concordia University, and Innovative Arts Inc. Pickin’ & Grinnin’ Workshops. In 2010, Dr. Belfer formed a Guitars For Vets Chapter at The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. At present, she is the National Director of Education for Guitars for Vets.
Ben is Owner and President of Kraft Music LTD, a musical instrument retailer and e-commerce company located in Franklin, Wisconsin. Kraft Music specializes in the marketing of digital instruments, as well as guitars, and has been recognized as one of the Top 200 Music Retailers in the United States while serving customers in all fifty states. In addition, Ben serves as a Director at NAMM (National Association of Music Merchants), an organization that promotes the pleasures and benefits of making music and strengthens the global music products industry.
USA (ret), Director
General Layfield joined The SPECTRUM Group after his last Army Active duty assignment as Director, Joint and Coalition Warfighting Center/Director Joint Training J7. He has held numerous command and senior staff positions including; Commanding General U.S. Army Alaska, Commander, 3rd Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division at as well as command at the battalion level. Key staff assignments include serving as the Operations Officer for V Corps, Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations and Intelligence for Allied Command Europe Rapid Reaction Corps, and operational duty on the Joint Staff. He has numerous deployments including; Operation Enduring Freedom, Afghanistan, Operation Joint Guard/Endeavor in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Task Force Able Sentry in the Republic of Macedonia. He serves on the advisory board for the Center for Logistics Management at Albany State University.
Scott was born and raised in Waukesha, Wisconsin. He is a combat veteran of the United States Army. Upon returning from the Army, Scott received his bachelor’s degree in accounting and finance as well as a master’s degree in accounting from the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee. Scott earned his CPA credentials and is currently working as a senior accountant in public accounting for Wipli LLP in audit and accounting.
Jason Kostal is a 13-year Army veteran and musician that started playing the guitar when he was 4 years old. He is full time luthier and the owner of Kostal Guitars, a boutique small business specializing in the creation of one-of-a-kind, handmade acoustic guitars for professional musicians and discerning collectors and players all over the globe. In addition to helping his fellow veterans through Guitars for Vets, he is also a member of the Board of Directors for the98fund.org, a veteran-focused non-profit charity that cares for the children and spouses of our fallen.
Patrick is a music teacher, composer and performer. In college, Patrick excelled in psychology and philosophy. He considered a career in medicine but chose the path of the artist instead. Music credits include many films and numerous bands in which he played guitar, bass and piano with styles covering rock, jazz, country, ambient and techno. In 2007, Patrick co-founded Guitars for Vets (G4V) with his student and friend, Vietnam Era Marine, Dan Van Buskirk. Since then, G4V has grown to more than 100 chapters throughout the USA. He is credited with developing the G4V “four-way path” known as PAGE—Patience, Acceptance, Gratitude, Empathy. The G4V community applies these principles in all aspects of operation as they strive to open “windows of serenity” with our military brothers and sisters that live with the challenges of PTSD. Patrick continues to compose and perform music in his band, Kharma Shotgun. His vision for the future is to offer the G4V program to all wounded Veterans throughout the USA and beyond.
Eric has played guitar for nearly 40 years and has over 20 years of management and non-profit experience. Prior to joining Guitars for Vets, Eric served as a Director of Accion Chicago, a non-profit company helping communities in Chicago grow by investing in entrepreneurs who build businesses and generate jobs in their neighborhoods. In 2012, Eric’s team launched The Chicago Microlending Institute (CMI), a first-in-the-nation initiative that partnered with The City of Chicago to triple the number of active non-profit microlenders operating citywide. In 2014, Eric’s team expanded the CMI initiative with support from The Sam’s Club Giving Program to begin training non-profit Women’s Business Centers across the country to enter the microlending industry. Prior to joining Accion, Eric served as Founder and Managing Partner of Covalence Capital Management, LLC, an investment firm investing in biopharmaceutical companies. Previously he held senior research and portfolio management positions at PEAK6 Investments, L.P., Merrill Lynch, Deutsche Bank and Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette. Eric earned a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from Tufts University, a Masters in Business Administration from Indiana University and is a CFA Charterholder.
Bailey’s passion for helping Veteran’s started with her Father, a US Marine. After watching him struggle for 20 years, she watched the power of music change his life. Bailey was taught how to play basic chords on the guitar from her father at about 8 years old and although she never became the next Guitar Hero, she has always kept the connection to the love of music. After high school, she studied Psychology at the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee with plans to become an Addiction and Substance Abuse Counselor. Bailey has volunteered her time with non-profit organizations since she was 16 years old, starting with the local Humane Society where she spent a lot of time and eventually was employed. It wasn’t too long after meeting Patrick Nettesheim that she started volunteering with Guitars for Vets and knew that this was the organization she belonged to.
Peg has played guitar for 12 years and is a member of the old time band The Company Store, singing vocals and harmony and playing rhythm guitar. Living in Virginia, Peg developed a deep appreciation and love for old time and roots music, whose origins derive from so many influences serving as a basis of music which later developed in the United States, including rock and roll, rhythm and blues, and jazz.
Peg served as the G4V Richmond Chapter Coordinator from 2011-2018, as well as being an instructor and part of the former mentoring team. She currently serves as our Salesforce Trainer and Administrator and also manages the award guitar ordering process for all chapters. She also serves as a regional chapter coordinator for our Eastern chapters.
Peg has 30+ years of experience as an art director and graphic design specialist in both the printing house and corporate environments, most recently with Argo Group US, retiring in 2017. Her role included design and production of print and digital marketing materials, internal and external communications, and website content, working within defined brand standards, showing both creativity and attention to detail. She was awarded the Graphic Design USA “Award of Excellence” for five consecutive years. Peg earned a Bachelor of Arts in Fine Art and Art Education from St. Mary’s College, Notre Dame, and studied Advertising Design post-bachelor at Wayne State University in Detroit.
Retirement means “time for other creative avenues!” and Peg’s love of music and writing has led her to Berklee College of Music’s online program. Narrative and lyric writing courses have allowed her skills to take flight as she works on a certificate program in Songwriting. Her goal is to be able to work with our students in a songwriting capacity, helping them tell their stories in song, along with their new guitar playing skills.
Paul is one of 6 children whose family shares a deep love for music. From guitar and bass players, singers, mouth-harp blowers, and an organ player, there was always music at the Lilley household. Being the youngest, Paul grew up listening to a wide range of his siblings musical preferences, from Peter Paul and Mary and Cat Stevens, the Association, Blood Sweat and Tears to the Beatles, Artful Dodger and Pink Floyd. Even the Singing Sister and show tunes! Paul’s father, Eugene was the organ player as well as the mouth-harp, taking his harmonica with him to war when he answered his call to service in World War II with the US Army’s 650th Engineer Topographic Battalion.
Guitar has been a constant in Paul’s life. A used 12 string Yamaha with only six strings on it accompanied Paul to college where he graduated with a social work degree and then later a Masters degree in Organizational Development. Paul first heard about the G4V program from an “Acoustic Tuesday” podcast from Tony Polecastro (one of G4V’s ambassadors). He began negotiating with G4V in 2018 to open up one of the first chapters that is not affiliated with a VA hospital, Vet Center or VA department. He is the coordinator for the Hancock-Ohio chapter and currently also serves as a Regional Chapter Coordinator with the G4V team.
Karen has been giving back, especially to Veteran Organizations, for as long as she can remember. She is always willing to help…. living by the motto, “If not me, who?”
When she learned about the Guitars for Vets Program, she could not wait to get involved. She has been a Chapter Coordinator for the Butler, PA chapter since 2018. She has spread the word in her community about the program and is blessed by a community that also loves to give back to Veterans.
Being a G4V Chapter Coordinator and most recently a Regional Chapter Coordinator is so very rewarding for her. She gets so much out of being involved. It is a win-win! She believes that being able to give Veterans the skill/tools to help themselves is wonderful. It is so much better than just adding another pill. Music is medicine!
With a long career in nursing, she attended Duquesne University for her Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree and Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree with a minor in Forensics. Although not musically inclined, as a nurse Karen has seen firsthand how the healing power of music positively affects Veterans.
In her free time, she enjoys photography and has shared her love of photography by donating her time to take photos at fundraisers, weddings, and events in her area. She is on the Board of Directors for a few organizations in her community and is always ready and willing to help when needed.
Banging drums for 50 years, Making horrible noises on guitars for nearly as long. Volunteer for Guitars For Vets on and off since inception. Mike’s focus with G4V is organizing fundraising events and procuring donated instruments. Mike believes in putting the healing power of music in the hands of heroes,
and considers himself a lifer in the service of veterans through Guitars For Vets.