New York Veterans Cope With Stress Through Music

by Kelsey Schappell
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Earl Parks and Jean Newton perform "Amazing Grace."

Kelsey Schappell, WFUV

A new program from the Westchester Conservatory of Music helps veterans find peace in a creative way.

Earl Parks is a Vietnam War veteran, who suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and a traumatic brain injury.
 
"I never felt like nothing because I always felt like, ugh, infantry man, the bottom of the barrel. What can we do?” he said. 
 
In September, he found out just what he could do. Parks started taking music therapy sessions at the Music Conservatory of Westchester. The program, Healing our Heroes, uses music therapy to help veterans like Parks express emotion and cope with stress. Jean Newton, the Conservatory's executive director, said it's the least they can do for veterans. 
 
"The Healing our Heroes program is helping to do a service for a group of incredible people who have done so much for each one of us,” she said.
 
Newton and Parks played a reprise of "Amazing Grace" together. A teary-eyed Parks said her feedback made him feel special. 
 
"She came up to me and said, 'That was good.' You don't know how good that felt,” he said. “That's like someone putting gold in your pocket. You got someone higher up looking at you saying you’re somebody. For the first time in my life, I felt like someone."
 
Parks plays the bass guitar. He said music brings him peace. 

 

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