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Story by: New York Guard PFC Ubone Mendie - NewYork Guard Public Affairs
Dated: Tue, Jul 20, 2010
BRONX, NY-New York Guard soldier’s banded together to create therapeutic music at the James J. Peters Veterans Administration Medical Center, July 20. The all-volunteer state defense force presented the hospital with over three dozen restored musical instruments during a morning ceremony held in the facilities chapel. “It’s a pleasure to be a part of an effort to give an opportunity to those have sacrificed the same for all Americans,” said the NYG Commanding General Maj. Gen. Fergal Foley as he addressed a crowd of veterans, who were both present and viewing a live broadcast in various parts of the hospital grounds via closed circuit television. The presentation of instruments closed a long drive spearheaded by the 56th Brigade’s Maj. Bob Coulombe. He began the drive after becoming aware of various veteran outpatients interests in musical instruments. In a conversation with Betsy Faden, a Bronx VA recreation therapist, Coulombe found out there was a need he could help facilitate. “I heard there were volunteers willing to teach the veterans, but they didn’t have any instruments," Coulombe said. Coulombe added once the idea was sparked things just seemed to all mesh together. “At drill, I asked everyone to take part in the drive and they did” Slowly Coulombe gathered various instruments. After convincing his friend and editor of New Castle Now news website Christine Yeres to publish an article about the drive, the added notoriety drove more instruments in from his surrounding neighborhood of Chappaqua, N.Y. After collecting the instruments, minor repairs and adjustments were needed. "One of the soldier’s in our brigade convinced her boyfriend Mark Hitt, a professional musician, to come to Camp Smith to tune and repair some of the string instruments that had been donated," Coulombe added. During the Ceremony Hitt performed an improve selection on his guitar. “This was a wonderful and generous undertaking,” said Medical Center Director, MaryAnn Musumeci. “We are grateful to the Guard and our friends in the community for their efforts on behalf of our veterans. We look forward to some beautiful music resulting from this project.” Some of the instruments donated are: piano keyboards, guitars, violins, cellos, saxophones, flutes, clarinets, trombones, accordions, trumpets and an auto harp among others.
Following the ceremony Foley and his Guard staff briefly visited veterans whose health confined them to their hospital rooms.