From Administrators at Holliswood Hospital.
“From the preliminary coordination phase, to the music writing, to the release party, Voices of Valor demonstrates consistent professionalism that goes above and beyond anything we ever expected. The patients gain such powerful insights that are directly relevant to their treatment goals and recovery. It is difficult to express the value of this program, as the proof is in the process, which we are so privileged to witness.
Studies have shown that trauma survivors actually have difficulty expressing themselves through words, as much of their presenting symptoms are rooted in unspeakable trauma. This program allows participants to create context for their experiences and work together to give a booming voice to that which could not be expressed previously. The clinical progress we see as a result is outstanding, and we cannot thank them enough for adding such a beneficial opportunity to our military members in treatment.” Aynisa Leonardo, Holliswood Hospital
“Participating in Voices of Valor produced a change within each individual who participated as well as a change in the group overall. Service members became more spontaneous, engaged, and cohesive after re-narrating their traumatic stories together. They were observed to be more relaxed, at ease, and creative. It is as if a part of them has been re-awakened that had previously been dormant.
One individual who presented with a substantial history of substance abuse stated that he had only associated his musical talents with drinking and abusing illicit substances in the past. He thought he would have to stop playing music altogether, as he was committed to his sobriety. After participating in Voices of Valor, he was relieved and overjoyed, he became reconnected with his voice through singing and realized that his music could be equally a source of healing as much as it had previously been connected with pain. This new outlook brought joy and a new sense of meaning for him that had been lost through traumatic events oversees. The recovery is transformative. “ Dr. Jessica Koblenz, Psychologist, Holliswood Hospital
“JV has been struggling with issues of self-esteem and worthlessness since his last deployment. He told me that the most important thing he got from the experience was that he rediscovered his self-worth and his value. As his therapist, I would say, he got his voice back!!” Linda Beliveau, Holliswood Hospital
“The Voices of Valor program is an absolutely outstanding, inspiring and moving experience. Individuals who were not directly involved in the production identified with and shared in the therapeutic value that came out of the lyrics development process. It was crystal clear that the program’s benefits extended to well beyond just those who made the recording. It was my honor to be even a small tangential part of the Voices of Valor project.” Stephen Ferrante, Holliswood Hospital
From participants in programs held at Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ; Lyons VA Hospital, NJ; Montclair State University, NJ; and The Military Wellness Program for active-duty PTSD and TBI patients at Holliswood Hospital, Jamaica, Queens, NY.
VS lives in Walla Walla, Washington and was sent to NJ to participate in a MST program (Military Sexual Trauma). Her eight week stay coincided with a VOV program. When she first came to us she could not make eye contact, stared at the floor, and wore very nondescript, unfeminine clothing. Seven weeks later she had contributed a significant verse to the song, sung it with strength, came to the recording session in bright sparkly clothes, and was very outgoing.
“You have given me something I will have for the rest of my life – a sense of accomplishment and a new sense of self.”
“This program felt totally safe from the very first moment and I felt completely validated by the leaders and the other participants.”
“Some higher power made sure that I attended Voices of Valor, it has made a major difference in my life.”
“Jennifer and Julio (the leader/facilitators) made us all feel equal, powerful, and important.”
“If there is anything I can ever do to help this amazing program, just ask!”
“This was real therapy for me.”
“I learned how to get along with people with different opinions, how to work with others in making decisions, and how to put forward my ideas without being difficult and assertive. Now I am more positive about everything in my life.” –KW
“I wanna let you know that Voices Of Valor has inspired me to write music and I have applied to Rutgers University to go into their music program. I want to say thank you for all your help, motivation ,and inspiration during the 9 weeks that I was with you guys for the voices of Valor program. I love you guys thank you.” –RT
“ The most important aspect of Voices of Valor has been letting myself know that it’s OK to talk about something that happened to me. We usually keep it inside, but you can’t live like that. It’s important to get it out there. I didn’t go to a psychiatrist for a long time because she wasn’t a veteran. We are told to ‘keep it in the house.’ This program has helped me create a new, bigger house.” M.L.
“I have no self-esteem. I’m scared of failure and rejection. I’m scared to be me and I’m scared to sing. And suddenly I realized – hey I CAN sing! If I can overcome the fear to singing in a recording studio, what else can I do?” J.M.
“The experience culminated everything I do not feel comfortable experiencing: group dynamic, expression, vulnerability, compatible control, test of patience, accepting “less than perfect.” Voices of Valor showed I could walk into and let go of some of these inhibitions.” P.D.
“This program has changed my life. It has given me back the joy and confidence I thought I had lost. The validation and acceptance has made me feel like I’m part of a large family.” A.H.
“It’s beautiful to know that life is a song worth singing!” S.L.
“Voices of Valor has helped me create a new reality. I have found myself and I now see what I can become.” C.S.
“This is long overdue. If I had had this program when I came back from Vietnam, I would be a different person today.” T.H.
From two administrators at Montclair State University, NJ
“I want again to extend a special thank you on behalf of the College of the Arts at Montclair State University for giving us the opportunity to collaborate on such an exceptional program as Voices of Valor. As our student veterans and faculty were able to express at the closing of the program, this was truly a highlight of their spring semester and they want more!” Marie Sparks, Director of Administration
“I am confident I can speak for the students when I say that the past few months have been life-changing. The University is always looking for ways to help our veteran and military students ‘find their voice’ as they transition from combat to campus. Voices of Valor did just that for a group of student veterans.” Denise Rodak, Coordinator, Veteran and Military Resources
From two administrators at the VA Hospital, Lyons, NJ
“The Voices of Valor program has had an amazingly positive effect on the veterans who have participated in the program thus far. All of the participants have nothing but positive things to say about the program. They all seem to agree that with the direction of the fantastic leaders they are able to express their feelings without judgment or fear of rejection. Most have also expressed that the group has helped with development of hopefully a long lasting camaraderie with their peers.
“The music that each group has turned out has been remarkable. Voices of Valor did a superb job taking these individuals with almost no connection to each other and facilitating them to create such amazing songs. One group wrote about staying ‘down to earth’; another about staying positive and being in a ‘better place’; and the last about loving our country and expressing their feelings about war, ‘a message to America’. This is a program that VA New Jersey Health Care System would like to continue to benefit our nation’s heroes.“ Laurie Tomaino, CTRS, CDP, Chief, Recreation Therapy, VA New Jersey Health Care System
“The Veteran patients from the VA New Jersey Health Care System who attended the Voices of Valor program this past year are forever changed from the positive experiences they had during their sessions. Patients who typically have trust issues allowed the power of music to take them to the next level and connected with both their peers and the leaders of the sessions in a short period of time. The sense of pride and accomplishment from these Veterans was palpable both during their CD release party and in the weeks after.” Kimberly DeCataldo, B.Mus, MT-BC, NMT, Resident Music Therapist, VA New Jersey Health Care System