CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- A local chapter of a national organization is lending a hand to local heroes. Guitars for Vets Carolinas reaches out to area vets suffering from trauma.

The non-profit provides free guitar lessons and a guitar to qualifying veterans. The vets are usually referred by their local VA and then the area coordinator then contacts each veteran individually.

York resident and veteran Jim Spagnolo is Vietnam veteran. He returned from war in 1969.

My way of dealing with everything was to drink or get high, he said.

In 1996, he was finally diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. According to Spagnolo, I felt that I was responsible for two guys getting killed and I carried that for 40 some, about 40 years.

That's when Guitars for Vets stepped in. Jim started taking lessons last year. Gary Walbrun is the regional coordinator for the local chapter.

I've had people tell me when I call them just to talk about a lesson, that they were on the brink of something really difficult and it was like some kind of intervention or message or something, he said.

For Jim, the program is a life saver.

Just to go out on your front porch and strum the guitar, it's really good therapy. I really enjoy that a lot, just to be alone and go out on the porch and the birds are singing, he said.

Guitar for Vets Carolinas is always looking for volunteers to teach the lessons as well as financial help to pay for the guitars.

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